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Mauritius And The United States Discuss Security Cooperation In The Western Indian Ocean

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Honourable Maneesh Gobin, held discussions with His Excellency Ambassador Robert Scott, Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Engagement, United States – Africa Command (USAFRICOM) on Wednesday 15 May 2024 at the Ministry.

The discussions primarily focused on the marine security challenges confronting the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.

The US Ambassador to Maurice, His Excellency Henry Jardine, also participated in the meeting.

USAFRICOM’s main mission is to address security challenges in Africa by working cooperatively with partner countries and organisations, promoting a secure environment conducive to political and economic development. Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, USAFRICOM is one of the eleven unified combatant commands of the U.S. Department of Defense. It is responsible for overseeing U.S. military operations, managing regional conflicts, and maintaining military relations with 53 African nations.

The primary goals of USAFRICOM are to promote effective governance among African partners, reduce threats from violent extremist and transnational criminal organisations. Ambassador Scott leads USAFRICOM’s efforts to unite defence, diplomacy and development and enhance stability in Africa.

Mauritius And US Discuss Security Cooperation in Western Indian Ocean

He commended Minister Gobin’s leadership in advancing maritime security in the WIO and explored opportunities for collaboration to further strengthen the region’s security architecture.

Minister Gobin expressed his desire to enhance cooperation with the United States in building capacity in surveillance, intelligence, and safety, particularly in light of the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and Suez Canal regions. This collaboration aims to address security risks and ensure the safety of navigation in the Indian Ocean, which, he remarked, has become one of the major spotlights in international security in recent times, affecting global trade, amongst others.

He also stressed on the need for countries in the region to harmonise their respective legislations and criminal justice systems in order to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate transnational organised crime cases more effectively.

The U.S. has been working closely with Mauritius in view to enhancing its maritime security capabilities through training in counterterrorism, forensics, seamanship, and maritime law enforcement. Key initiatives include the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s training on ‘Undercover and Surveillance Techniques’ as part of the 2022 Western Indian Ocean Island Nations Counter-narcotics Project, partnering with Mauritius and neighbouring islands to combat drug trafficking.

In November 2023, a “ship-in-a-box” simulator was donated by Deputy Assistant Secretary Tobin Bradley to the Mauritius Revenue Authority to boost training infrastructure for maritime law enforcement in Mauritius. Additionally, the annual Exercise Cutlass Express, led by AFRICOM, promotes regional cooperation and strengthens maritime security along the East African coast and the WIO.

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