EU VP to visit strategically sited Djibouti

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European Union (EU) Vice President Josep Borrell will be in the Horn of Africa country, Djibouti, from tomorrow (Saturday, 6 July) to Monday with a two-pronged agenda.

The first, as per an EU External Action Service (EEAS) statement, is to strengthen bilateral ties with the strategically sited country which hosts an international military presence in the form of eight bases – land and naval – from (in alphabetic order) China, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Djibouti is, according to the European bloc, a key partner and this will see Borrell take in its long-running naval deployment – Operation Atalanta – supporting coastal states in the Indo/Pacific in pursuit of peace, stability and maritime security. The multinational naval task force provides, among others, permanent protection for World Food Programme (WFP) vessels bringing much-needed food supplies to drought and violence stricken countries, including Sudan.

Ahead of arrival in Djibouti, Borrell will stop briefly in Greece at Larissa, the operational headquarters of Operation Aspides the third – and latest – EU naval force deployed in African territorial waters.

His Djibouti stay will see him visit naval assets detached to the Aspides and Atalanta operations.

“Combined, these engagements will allow for a first-hand appreciation of how EU operations contribute to regional security” and will further see Borrell interact with “European men and women serving to protect freedom of navigation”.

Meetings with Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh and his foreign affairs and international co-operation minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, are scheduled for Monday ahead of a press conference before departure.