New Era (Windhoek)

21 February 2013

Namibia: Brazilian Defence Minister Visits Namibia

Windhoek — Namibia and Brazil continue to strengthen ties in their joint fight against illicit activities such as illegal fishing, piracy and drug trafficking in the South Atlantic.

This came to light in Windhoek yesterday at a media briefing on the two-day official visit of Brazilian Minister of Defence Celso Amorim to Namibia. The visit started on Tuesday and ended yesterday.

Namibian Minister of Defence Nahas Angula said Namibia and Brazil are united in the promotion of peace and stability in the South Atlantic ocean given the fact that the two maritime nations are separated only by the Atlantic Ocean.

"As good neighbours, we should promote goodwill, stability and peace in the South Atlantic," Angula said. His counterpart, Amorim, said even though cases of piracy and other illegal activities have not been regular occurrences in the South Atlantic like in the Indian Ocean, the horn of Africa and Equatorial Guinea, the region is not immune to such activities, therefore the two countries should be prepared to face those challenges should they arise.

"We need to keep the South Atlantic free from conflicts, free from weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons," said the visiting Brazilian defence minister. He further said that, even though the two countries are committed to solving conflicts through diplomacy, in order for diplomacy to work, there is a need for a strong defence mechanism.

Apart from the need to strengthen already existing cooperation, especially in helping the Namibian Navy, whereby about 40 Brazilian experts are training locals, the two delegations agreed to expand cooperation to other defence wings such as the Army and the Air Force.

"The two delegations agreed to cooperate in different areas of the defence industry to build operational and productive capabilities of the two countries," reads a joint communiqué issued at the briefing. Namibia and Brazil would also examine possibilities for cooperation between the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Union of Southern American Nations (Unasul). The Brazilian Minister of Defence was accompanied by a select group of industrialists and businesspersons to promote trade and joint ventures between Brazilian and Namibian businesspeople.

Namibia and Brazil signed an agreement in 1994 to develop Namibia's naval capabilities. That agreement was renewed in 2001 and is still operational, and progress is said to be satisfactory. Apart from over 40 Brazilian naval officers in Namibia, who are conducting training, about 100 Namibians are also in Brazil gaining training and expertise in various naval disciplines.

Before he concluded his official tour Amorim also paid a courtesy call on State House yesterday where he had an audience with President Hifikepunye Pohamba and also conferred with Alpheus !Naruseb, the Minister of Lands and Resettlement.

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