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US-Gambia defence relations strengthened after Pentagon visit

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By Lamin Cham

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Africa, Chidi Blyden has expressed pleasure at the recent visit by Gambian Defense Minister Sheikh Omar Faye to the Pentagon. 

Last month, through the facilitation of the two countries’ embassies, Mr Faye paid a fruitful official trip to the US where he held discussions at the Pentagon on areas of defense and security cooperation between the two countries. One of the top US defence officials he met was Ms Blyden.

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In a follow-up letter to Minister Faye on the visit, Ms Bylden wrote: “It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to hear your perspective on the Gambia’s security challenges and to identify continued areas of cooperation.”  Ms Blyden further expressed pleasure to learn how quickly the Gambia’s defence policies and strategies have developed within a short span of time. “I commend you and the president and the government officials from the Smiling Coast for your efforts to promote democracy, rule of law and international norms. Your focus on strengthening our relationship, particularly through information sharing and other means also resonated strongly with me. It is only through a holistic approach can we reach our mutual counter–terrorism, maritime security, and peace-keeping goals in West Africa. As our two countries work   towards peace and stability in West Africa, I look forward to our continuous conversation and cooperation.”

Further asked about the trip, Mr Faye thanked President Barrow for approving the trip and two ambassadors, Paschal and Fadera from the US and The Gambia, respectively, for its facilitation.

”Since the new regime came to power The Gambia is making good strides in achieving a compressive defence policy. Matter of defence and security are delicate issues that require everyone’s contribution and understanding as they deal with peace and stability.  Defence is not only about guns, but also the guaranteeing of fundamental rights to freedom, culture among others,” the minister said.

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Meanwhile yesterday, the MOD conducted a retreat at the Officers Mess in Kotu on the national defence policy draft. “A similar study of the draft will be done by all stakeholders before the validation expected in September. That would pave way for The Gambia to have her first defense policy,” Minister Faye said.

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