Asked about the succession of charge d’affaires and the long absence of a full-fledged US ambassador in The Gambia, the straight-talking diplomat revealed: “Well we had a nomination back in spring time but the government here, as is its right, decided not to accept that person. I am still not exactly clear why. It is very unusual but those are private diplomatic conversations. I am hoping that can be corrected and fixed sometime in the future. The relationship with The Gambia is good. [But] it is not as I would hope it would be. Any country in Africa should have a relationship with the US government that’s the very best at every time. In every country I have served, the US embassy, the US ambassador, is perhaps the best friend, the closest confidant of the president, ministers and parliamentarians. The number one best friend in the country is the US Embassy and the Americans.
“We have had some issues with the government over time in the area of human rights concerns mainly. But let’s give the government credit where it is due as well. The government has been very forthright in its opposition to international terrorism. The government is providing troops for peacekeeping operations. Our citizens who come to visit the tourism sites and so forth have been welcomed as tourists are. I think having His Excellency, the President go to Washington for the recent African Leaders Conference signified again that we want to have very good relations with the government just as we do with the people in The Gambia. It should be better. Like with any country or any government, there are some things that come along that sometimes cloud the relationship and make it more difficult but friends work through these things. Certainly, that is my message here when I meet with officials and the public, is that we want the very best of relations. We want to do things respecting the sovereignty of the country and find ways we can cooperate together.”]]>