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Spain to boost relations with Nigeria, ECOWAS

22 November 2012, 07:31

Abuja - The Spanish government has assured Nigeria and ECOWAS of its commitment to supporting the economic growth of the sub-region.

Mr Gonzalo de Benito, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Spain, said this at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday.

Benito is on a working visit to four West African countries which include Nigeria, Mali, Senegal and Cape Verde.

He said that the Spanish government’s resolve to boost the West African economy would provide more jobs in the region and reduce the threats of illegal immigration to Spain.

"We are looking for new markets in sharing experiences and there will be more illegal immigration if we do not improve the West African economy.

"We have the capacity to improve the conditions in West Africa," he said.

benito said that a meeting held on Wednesday with the President and Commissioners of the ECOWAS Commission had reviewed the West African economic sector.

He said that both parties agreed to enhance cooperation in developing different sectors of the sub-region through a two year project from 2013 to 2015.

"We will produce in March, a document for the next two years that will organise our programme according to the project and adapt what we do with the objectives of ECOWAS.

"This will include developing different sectors of the economy and the institutional strengthening of the ECOWAS Commission.

He added that apart from reviewing its cooperation with the commission, the Spanish government had incorporated a "triple approach" to the crisis in Mali.

"Beside cooperation, our discussions have focused on the security situation in Mali.

"We believe that dialogue among political parties is necessary; addressing the humanitarian situation that has been aggravated by the crisis; and working with ECOWAS and AU in improving security in the sub-region."

Benito also said that the Spanish government would provide training for African security missions and contribute to the demands of the West African countries.

He further said that at another meeting with the Minister of State II for Foreign Affairs, Dr Nurudeen Mohammed, Spain had agreed to review its bilateral relations with Nigeria.

He noted that reviewing bilateral relations with Nigeria would see Spain as the "fourth destination in the world of Nigerian exports".

"Nigeria exports to Spain is recorded at 8.1 billion dollars over the last two years and it keeps growing but there are low imports from Spain to Nigeria of about 400 million dollars.

"We want to engage Nigeria in tourism, infrastructure building companies, agriculture, oil and gas, and renewable energy."

He added that a review of the Nigeria-Spain bilateral relations would be done annually.

He also added Spain was ready to share experiences with the Nigerian government in tackling terrorism and prosecuting terrorists.


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