Nouakchott — The presidents of Mauritania and Niger appealed to the rest of the Sahel to join their efforts to confront terrorism and trans-Saharan smuggling.
The heads of state wrapped up a two-day summit in Niamey on Tuesday (December 3rd) that included delegations from both countries.
"Joint action will enable the countries of the Sahel to confront challenges in various fields, especially the most pressing ones such as security," Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz stressed.
"Development cannot be achieved without a credible democracy and human rights in our countries cannot be advanced without overcoming this challenge," he said.
"Mauritania realised from the outset the risk of terrorist groups in the region and decided to fight this phenomenon through an integrated and sound strategy," the president said.
Without security, democracy cannot take root and the economy cannot progress, ANI quoted Ould Adel Aziz as saying.
He said in a related context that "the stability of Niger was built on respect, patience, and tolerance between the various components of its people".
"This very stability is threatened today by various risks, the most important of which is a misconception of religion based on tribalism and intolerance, a misconception that produced extremism and terrorism," he said.
"These are all challenges facing our region today and are a source of security concern," the Mauritanian head of state continued.
The situation, he said, imposed on the countries of the region "a need to unite and work hand in hand to ensure a better future".
For his part, Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou said that Mauritania and his country had "experienced throughout the ages a tolerant Islamic civilisation".
"The serious crisis facing neighbouring Mali requires granting priority to counter-terrorism and smuggling. This in turn requires more vigilance," ActuNiger quoted Issoufou as saying.
The president of Niger praised the agreement on military co-operation with Mauritania as an important step on the road to building a solid foundation for relations between the two countries.
At the end of the Mauritanian president's visit to Niger on Tuesday, a memorandum of understanding covering a number of co-operation agreements between the two countries was signed. The agreement included judicial collaboration, airborne rescue, Islamic affairs and the Arabic language as well as petroleum and minerals.
"Niger is now the focus of the next conflict with terrorism, given its location and the flow of terrorists to it," Mauritanian journalist Sheikh Ould Mohamed Horma said. "It is bordered by northern Mali on the west and by the threat of Boko Haram on the south, the south of Libya on the north and Chad on the east."
Niger recognises more than ever the difficulty of confronting all of these risks alone, Ould Mohamed Horma added.