4 August 2014

Mauritania: Kerry, Mauritania President Aziz Before Meeting in Washington

Photo: U.S. Department of State
President Mohamed Ould Abddel Aziz of Mauritania with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

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REMARKS by Secretary of State John Kerry And President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz Before Their Meeting

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon. My great pleasure to welcome the President of Mauritania, President Aziz. He's just flown in this afternoon. We're very happy to welcome him here for the Africa Leaders Summit.

And it's particularly a pleasure for me to welcome him not only because I can congratulate him on his recent reelection, but he has also been elected to be the leader of the African Union. He's assuming the chairmanship of the African Union. So we look forward to working with him as a very key leader - (inaudible). We look forward to welcoming him as a key leader in the course of many of the efforts that we're engaged in.

I also want to thank him for his leadership in helping to negotiate a ceasefire with the Government of Mali and three rebel groups in northern Mali. The United States is deeply engaged with the Government of Mauritania on counterterrorism initiatives, and we are involved through the Mauritanian military, working with them, helping to provide them with air capacity, training, advanced counterterrorism techniques, which enable the military to secure the borders and to react very quickly and decisively for any kinds of terrorist incursions.

We're also assisting the Mauritanian Government with efforts to establish regional solutions to regional problems, and this is something that President Aziz is particularly focused on as the now chair of the African Union.

So Mr. President, thank you for taking time to come and visit. We're delighted to have you here. Thank you.

PRESIDENT AZIZ: (Via interpreter) (In progress) between the United States and Africa. Many things will be done together to help our two groups (inaudible) the United States and Africa, especially with respect to bilateral relations between my country, the United States, and Mauritania. We are very satisfied with the state of our relations. The United States is helping us with capacity building. They are helping our armed forces and our security forces, especially in terms of its airborne components. This is producing very good results, and this has allowed us to secure our territory.

It is, indeed, true that we live in a very complex region, the Sahel region. Therefore, this cooperation is productive, beneficial, not only for our own country but also for the entire region, because the United States is also present throughout the region in Niger, in Mali, in order to assure security in the region. Because as you know full well, this is a region which is located in a very difficult situation from a security standpoint. There's terrorism, which has been there for about a decade now. There's a country, Mali, which has suffered from terrorism. We are in a region which has great difficulties due to terrorism, due to drug trafficking, due to hostage taking. And this has a deeply destabilized this region.

So yes, indeed today we are fighting against this and the support that we are getting from the United States is help that is quite timely and it impelled us to reinforce our capabilities. We are very thankful for this. And I do hope that as a result of this summit we'll be able to work together on other issues that will allow Africa to develop itself further to fight against poverty in all of its forms, because unfortunately it's poverty which is somewhat the cause of all the problems that we're experiencing from a security standpoint.

Thank you.

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