STUTTGART, Germany, October 1, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — U.S. Africa Command welcomed Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada of Sao Tome and Principe to the command headquarters at Kelley Barracks on Monday, September 24, 2012.
Trovoada is the first African head of government to visit AFRICOM’s headquarters. The command, which is responsible for U.S. military relations with 54 African countries, partners with African nations to strengthen their defense capability. His visit gave senior leaders at AFRICOM the opportunity to talk about mutual security concerns, particularly in the area around the Gulf of Guinea.
Accompanying the prime minister were Sao Tome and Principe Minister of Defense and Security Carlos Olimpio Stock and U.S. Ambassador to Sao Tome and Principe and Gabon Eric Benjaminson. The visit included briefings about the command’s role in Africa and how it works with local governments and militaries to promote security across the continent.
“I’m leaving more comfortable that the U.S. is willing to work together with African nations on issues that are important and beneficial to both of us,” Trovoada said.
The prime minister’s visit came two weeks after the attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans died. Trovoada emphasized his country’s support of America in wake of the attacks.
“I believe that we as Africans, we know that the United States has been under a tremendous amount of threats,” he explained, “And those who want to attack America and American interests, they are also attacking values we share and that we want to defend.”
He added: “We have been shocked in Sao Tome, and not only in Sao Tome and Principe, for what happened in Benghazi. And this is just reinforcing our determination to work together.”
The prime minister and the AFRICOM commander discussed the strategic themes and roles both militaries play in keeping the waters around the Gulf of Guinea safe.
“Sao Tome and Principe is an important partner in contributing to the regional security and stability in the Gulf of Guinea,” said General Carter F. Ham, U.S. AFRICOM commander. “We look forward to future cooperation between our two militaries.”
Ham visited Sao Tome in May 2012 as part of a visit to the members of the Economic Community of Central African States. The ECCAS has maritime agreements that include the joint patrolling of the waters around Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, and Equatorial Guinea.
The Islands of Sao Tome and Principe are situated off the African coast of Guinea near several of the continent’s fastest-growing and busiest ports. The rise in shipping and maritime activity increases the need for safety along the African coastline. Shipping has been an important part of its economy since its beginnings under Portuguese rule. Today, it has emerged as a vibrant democracy whose economy still relies heavily on the shipping industry.
The prime minister spoke about the appreciation he has for the work of the U.S. military and the work of AFRICOM. “We want to encourage the members of AFRICOM, that you are doing a great job and that you are welcome when you come to Africa,” Trovada said.
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