EU interested to widen cooperation with Gulf countries in Sahel – official

BRUSSELS, The European Union and the Gulf countries are cooperating to promote peace and security in the Sahel region and the 28-member European bloc is keen to boost this cooperation.

EU special representative for Sahel, Angel Losada, said there is ongoing cooperation between EU and the Gulf countries in the Sahel, noting that he was invited for a visit by the UAE, which is contributing to the G5 Sahel joint force.

“There is a very close cooperation with them. We are ready to work together with the Gulf countries,” the Spanish diplomat told KUNA in an interview.

“My task and my mission first is to promote the importance of Sahel among European countries,” he said, underlining that the “security of Europe is linked with the security of Sahel.” His second task is to coordinate the EU’s comprehensive approach to the regional crisis, which contains four main elements.

They include youth, fight against radicalisation, problem of migration and all that is related with security matters like border control management, the G5 joint force which has been created, he noted.

Losada was appointed as the EU special representative for the Sahel in 2015 to lead contribution to regional and international efforts for lasting peace, security and development. Losada was Spain’s ambassador to Kuwait from 2011-14.

“Kuwait has always been a mediator by itself,” he said referring to the Gulf country’s role of mediation in the region.

“They have always been very eager to collaborate and to talk with all. We have very close links with Kuwait. It is a country which I appreciate very much and it is a country which is in my heart,” he pointed out.

The governments of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania agreed to form a joint regional military force known as the G5 Sahel in 2014 in order to strengthen economic and security cooperation and to fight terrorism.

Analysts noted that instability in Mali and the western Sahel is causing great concern not only in Maghreb and West Africa, but also in Europe.

Sahel has become a breeding ground to drug traffickers and terrorist groups that are profiting from the instability.

Humanitarian, development and rule-of-law crises are intermingled with regional and global security issues in the Sahel region.

According to media reports, Saudi Arabia pledged USD 100 million and the UAE USD 30 million at the G5 summit hosted in Paris in December 2017.

At the Brussels Sahel Conference in February 2018, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as the EU and other nations pledged support of EUR 414 million (USD 474 million) to the G5 force.

Source: Kuwait News Agency