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Tuesday, July 13, 2004
US to help Nigeria, Africa, fight terror
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US to help Nigeria, Africa, fight terror
- Elmarie Jack

Abuja - The deputy commander of US forces in Europe, General Charles Wald, on Monday pledged Washington's support for African countries in their regional peacekeeping efforts and the fight against terrorism.

"We are doing everything we can to support African leaders on regional peacekeeping. We have been sharing information on terrorism issues with individual countries and regional groups in Africa," he said during a lunch meeting with the heads of Nigeria's army, navy and air force. Nigeria, the west African economic and military powerhouse, was a major interest to the United States, he said.

"Nigeria is one of the most important countries in our area.... We would like to have more co-operation with Nigeria. We think it is crucial for both of us, given Nigeria's strategic importance." He warned Africa was not spared the threat of a terrorist attack. "Terrorism can happen anywhere. They (terrorists) have been in the US, Russia, Europe, Middle East. They could certainly come here. "We hope to avoid that through intelligence-sharing, through helping Nigeria to continue to evolve its security through training," said the general. US support could take the form of training and logistical aid for anti-terror and peacekeeping operations, he added.

"We are looking forward to more involvement with ECOWAS (west Africa's regional grouping) in both training and in providing some equipment. We will see how this works," said Wald. "In specific terms, we are looking forward to co-operation in training, making ECOWAS a regional example for Africa and having it lead other regions in Africa." ECOWAS recently deployed regional peacekeepers to Liberia and Ivory Coast, and last month moved to create a rapid reaction force to respond to conflicts within the region.

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