African Union looks to long-term cooperation
The African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Said Djinnit, visited NATO HQ on 2 March, the second high-level visit by an African Union official to NATO.
He met with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and addressed the North Atlantic Council, NATO's principal decision-making body.
They discussed cooperation between NATO and the African Union, particularly NATO's support for AU efforts to bring peace to the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan.
Since July 2005 NATO has provided airlift for 24,000 African Union peacekeepers in and out of Darfur, as well training to African Union officers.
Ambassador Djinnit discussed the deteriorating security situation in the region, and also the African Unions' broader, long-term capacity-building and training needs.
"NATO has been providing capacity-building support in Sudan and we are exploring possibilities for expanding the cooperation into other areas. We are looking to including the long-term cooperation and support of NATO," he said in a Web interview for the NATO Web site. The Council reiterated NATO's strong commitment to continue to assist the African Union's mission in Darfur.
The previous high-level by an African Union official was a visit by the Chairman of the African Union, and former President of Mali, Alpha Oumar Konare, in May 2005.