Roundup: AU, NATO eye closer collaboration in operationalizing African Standby Forces

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ADDIS ABABA, April 3 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have called for strong collaboration in the operationalization of the African Standby Forces (ASF), the AU revealed on Wednesday.

Officials of AU and NATO made the joint call following the meeting of AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Sarah Anyang Agbor, with commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, and commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, admiral James G. Foggo III, the pan African bloc said in a statement on Wednesday.

The meeting at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa "acknowledged the importance of advancing the collaboration between the African Union and NATO in issues related to political connectivity, capacity building, and continental collaboration," the statement read.

The AU commissioner, during the meeting, highlighted some of AU's flagship projects such as "Silencing the Guns by 2020," which the AU said has recorded achievements in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction across the continent.

Agbor, noting the positive cooperation among the two parties, also called for closer collaboration and support in the operationalization of the African Standby Forces (ASF) and the operationalization of the AU Continental Logistics Base in Douala, the AU said.

The ASF is a continental and multidisciplinary peacekeeping force with military, police and civilian contingents that act under the direction of the AU, and is deployed in times of crisis across the 55 AU members.

Meanwhile, Douala of Cameroon was selected in 2011 as the site of the AU's Continental Logistics Base (LOGBASE).

Agbor also stressed that the AU, which is currently implementing a reform agenda, envisaged for self-financing of the African Union's conflict prevention and resolution efforts with the creation of the Africa Peace Fund.

Admiral Foggo also briefed the AU officials on NATO's new efforts in counter-terrorism, cyber-security and the refugees and migration crises in Europe.

"There has been enormous progress on the Africa continent, particularly in those 38 countries that have a coastline. We can be very proud of what our African partners have achieved," an AU statement quoted Foggo as saying.

He further emphasized that "political connectivity is very important and must be strengthened as well as political cooperation and practical collaboration are very essential for progress."

"NATO is ready to bring expertise from political and military organizations. Integrity building programmes of NATO can help to build good governance. Moreover, as part of the Maritime Security efforts, one of the vessels will be brought to go round the Gulf of Guinea," he said.

The visit of the NATO high-level delegation is said to be part of the preparations for the upcoming staff talks between the AU and NATO, slated for May this year in Addis Ababa.

In 2014, a technical agreement was signed between the AU and NATO leading to the opening of a NATO Liaison Office at the AU Headquarters in 2015. As part of the agreement NATO has been providing training for military and civilian staff of the AU, it was noted.

AU-NATO cooperation, which dates back to 2005 when the AU requested for logistics and airlift support for its Mission in Sudan, mainly encompasses three areas including operational support, capacity-building, and assistance in the establishment of the African Standby Force (ASF), according to the AU said. Enditem

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