By Shout-Africa Gambia Correspondent – In a boost to bilateral cooperation between Banjul and Washington, the government of The Gambia and the United States of America yesterday signed an agreement on cooperation to suppress illicit transnational maritime activity.
Gambian minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Momodou Tangara, and US ambassador to The Gambia Pamela Ann White appended their signatures on the document on behalf of their respective governments, at a ceremony held at the Laico Atlantic Hotel in Banjul.
The agreement, done in recognition of Article 17 of the 1988 United Nations convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and the 1982 United Nations convention on the laws of the sea, is in fulfillment of enhancing effective legal means for international cooperation in criminal matters for suppressing illicit transnational maritime activity.
Under the agreement, the United States government will grant logistical support and training to The Gambia.
Shortly after the signature of the agreement, US ambassador Pamela Ann White said the agreement was in the best interest of both countries, and is one of the best.
“This document is a comprehensive one, and it will allow us do a lot of training here in The Gambia with the navy and other security units,” she stated.
According to the US diplomat, the signing of the agreement is a great step forward for the two countries.
Dr. Momodou Tangara, in response commended US ambassador White for “working tirelessly in changing misconceptions about The Gambia, making the signing of the agreement successful.”
According to him, the signing of the agreement is a step in the right direction.
“It is important for us to equip ourselves in this order, fight terrorism and piracy and, for that to happen, we need to sign such an agreement to train our men to build their capacity,” Tangara said.
Also speaking to journalists about his impression, Lieutenant General Masanneh Kinteh, chief of defence staff of the Gambia Armed Forces underscored the significance of the agreement.
“The agreement is based on maritime relations between the US navy, coast guards and the Gambia armed forces and navy. This agreement will facilitate and further strengthen the cooperation that exists between the armed forces of the two countries in the maritime environment,” Kinteh added.
He said such agreements are needed to be able to work closely together to confront issues in the maritime environment.
According to Kinteh, maritime security is a great challenge to the sub-region, and it needs partnership to tackle the menace. He noted that the challenge from transnational crimes in the maritime sector is just beyond two countries and, as such, it needs collaboration.
Commodore Madani Senghore, head of the Gambia Navy, also lauded the agreement, saying it is a great achievement for the navy.