Nouakchott — Spain's top diplomat hailed Mauritania for its work in fighting terrorism and illegal immigration.
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz welcomed a high-level Spanish diplomatic delegation to Nouakchott on Monday (February 25th).
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo led the 2-day visit to Mauritania to co-ordinate security and counter-terrorism efforts.
García-Margallo met with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf and Foreign Minister Hamadi Ould Baba Ould Hamadi.
"Mauritania was a forerunner in drawing attention to the dangers of terrorism in Sahel, and has taken all the necessary measures to combat it," Ould Hamadi said during the meeting.
"These measures were represented in the Mauritanian army's destruction of operational bases, recruitment networks and training camps of the armed terrorist gangs that now pose a real threat to the security of our borders," he added.
As to the Mauritanian position on the war in Mali, Ould Hamadi said that the country was "closely following developments on the ground and doing all that it can to prevent the infiltration of terrorist elements to Mauritania ".
He added that the country was also "making vigorous efforts to carefully manage the influx of tens of thousands of refugees".
Ould Hamadi said that the Spanish foreign minister's visit would boost bilateral co-operation in the coming years.
The Spanish delegation's visit aimed at encouraging Mauritania to counter illegal immigration.
"I think that the Spanish foreign minister's visit to Mauritania just a few days after Mauritania deported some Gambians shows Spain's appreciation of this action. The officials came to offer incentives to the Mauritanian government to implement its policy in combating African immigration to Europe," journalist and rights activist Mohamed Ould Oubeida told Magharebia.
"Although the Mauritanian step against immigrants is part of its legitimate right to protect its border against illegal immigration, it is on the other hand a step criticised by some rights activists as a violation of immigrant rights agreement, which Mauritania ratified in Geneva," Ould Oubeida added.
The Spanish government could play a humanitarian role in the Sahel's security and stability because its image was more acceptable than other countries that committed historical violations against the region's peoples, activist Abu Bakr al-Ansari said.
"We hope that the Spanish presence and the Spanish foreign minister's tour will be the start for realising more security," he added.