London, (The Southern African Times) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has welcomed Patrick Achi, prime minister of Ivory Coast, for bilateral talks on a number of trade and security issues at the US Department of State.
“We join Côte d’Ivoire in the worldwide condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Blinken said in a tweet late Monday, after meeting the Ivorian leader.
According to the State Department, the US, which has supported the country with funding to tackle AIDS, donated more than 4.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Ivory Coast last year.
Also on the agenda was the $524.7m grant due to Ivory Coast under a programme of US agency Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The grant is yet to be disbursed.
In addition, troops from both countries cooperate in numerous joint training exercises through the US Africa Command.
“We told them what the challenges and security issues we had were,” Achi said in a statement after meeting Blinken.
“And in the face of these security challenges, we ourselves have begun to strengthen the training of our soldiers”, he said. “We have also reinforced our equipment and above all, we have invested in basic social infrastructure as well…for the integration of young people to be able to improve the living conditions of the populations on the northern borders, to try to curb terrorism, which is threatening.”
Last month, FLINTLOCK, the annual US-led military training programme for African forces was held in Ivory Coast. It came as parts of West Africa face the growing threat of armed groups’ attacks amid French forces’ withdrawal from Mali.
As violence spreads beyond the Sahel region, coastal countries such as Benin and Ivory Coast, relatively unscathed by the security crisis affecting their northern neighbours, are increasingly experiencing attacks.