Magharebia (Washington DC)

13 January 2014

West Africa: Mali, Mauritania Partner to Secure Sahel

People living in the Sahel region of Africa face a food crisis for fourth consecutive year, and at the Mauritanian-Senegalese border food shortages ... ( Resource: Endless Food Emergency in the Sahel

Nouakchott — Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Sunday (January 12th) ended a three-day working visit to Mauritania.

Talks between Keita and his Mauritanian counterpart Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz focused on security co-operation.

The trip "opens a new page and gives a strong impetus to bilateral relations and solidarity between the peoples of the region to meet the challenges facing the Sahel", AFP quoted Keita as telling Mauritanian national radio.

The two countries on Sunday signed a joint statement to strengthen collaboration between armed and security forces.

In addition, the presidents discussed the need for regional co-operation between African countries, saying it would help address the multiple crises confronting the continent.

Some observers said the threat of militant terror groups in the Sahel region gave President Keita's visit momentum and helped thaw the glacial relationship between the two countries for the sake of security and economic co-operation.

Journalist and political analyst Said Ould Habib told Magharebia, "This visit's first dimension is security, as Mauritania used to have military interventions deep inside Malian territory in order to track down al-Qaeda," journalist and political analyst Said Ould Habib told Magharebia.

"Tightening the relationship with the current Malian regime is bound to allow Mauritania to protect its borders," Ould Habib said.

"In addition, any improvement of military ties between Mauritania and the Malian army tightens the noose around the men of al-Qaeda," he added.

Malian journalist Moussa Koulibali told Magharebia, "The power of interests is always above the power of political disagreements between neighbouring countries."

"Mauritania and Mali are not only two neighbouring countries, but also one people united by geography and history," he said.

"Any economic development between these two countries is bound to lead to integrated development that will guarantee the prevention of terror from spreading in border areas, and Mauritania has successful experience in this area," he added.

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