Africom Commander concludes visit to Libya, Algeria, Tunisia


US Army General Stephen Townsend, commander, US Africa Command, haswrapped up a two-day visit to Libya, Algeria, and Tunisia as part of an African tour.

Townsend travelled to Libya with US Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland where they met with interim Government of National Unity Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Abdulhamid Dabaiba, in advance of the 24 December elections and to support the country’s stabilization and national reconciliation. Townsend and Norland also received the 5+5 Joint Military Commission in Tripoli, the first time this group has met in the Libyan capital.

“US Africa Command continues to support Ambassador Norland’s diplomatic efforts to ensure Libya holds presidential and parliamentary elections this December. We also support the UN-facilitated political reconciliation process and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libya,” said Townsend.

“We saw another piece of Libyan history today. Receiving the 5+5 Joint Military Commission in Tripoli together with Gen. Townsend was another step towards national reconciliation and an end to years of conflict,” said Norland. “As we discussed, the elections on December 24 will also mark a key step towards a stable, unified national government with a mandate from Libyan voters. The United States will continue working to support full implementation of the ceasefire agreement including the withdrawal of all foreign forces and fighters in accordance with the wishes of the Libyan public.”

In Algeria, Townsend, accompanied by US Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Gautam Rana, met with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and the Chief of Staff of the People’s National Army, Lieutenant General Said Chanegriha.

“The United States appreciates the role Algeria plays in promoting peace, security, and prosperity in the region and beyond. We hope to continue building on our strong bilateral relationship in areas of mutual interests,” said Townsend.

In Tunisia, Townsend and US Ambassador Donald Blome met with the Tunisian military Chiefs of Staff, to discuss US security efforts on building the capacity of the Tunisian military to counter threats.

Townsend’s 27-28 September visit was preceded by a trip to Mali. In discussions with transition President Goita, Townsend discussed the shared sacrifices of Malian, US, and international forces in seeking to improve security and stability in Mali and the Sahel. Townsend reaffirmed that US Africa Command stands in solidarity with the armed forces and people of Mali as they counter violent extremism.

“Malian and international partner forces have shed blood together while fighting against the terrorists that threaten innocent civilians in Mali and the Sahel,” said Townsend. “We want to continue this longstanding partnership.”

During their meeting with Minister of Defence Camara, Townsend emphasized the significant security and development support the US and partners have provided to Mali over the years, both bilaterally and through international partners such as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, MINUSMA.

Building on the United States’ long-standing partnership with Mali, US Africa Command remains committed to promoting a secure, stable and prosperous future as Mali transitions to a civilian-led democratically elected government in service of the Malian people, the Command said.