General News of Thursday, 20 November 2008
Accra, Nov. 20, GNA - Visiting NATO secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, on Thursday said the military alliance could play an important role in training African soldiers. This, he said, would ensure that Africa provided solutions to the conflicts on the continent.
"Africans must be in the lead to find solutions to problems that confront the continent," he said in Accra in an interaction with Ghanaian military officers on the second day of his three-day visit to Ghana.
Scheffer is in Ghana at the invitation of the President John Agyekum Kufuor.
He ruled out a direct role for the alliance's troops in Africa, saying it was not in NATO's domain to police the world. "NATO is not a global policeman and we do not intend to turn the organization into that.
"We are not seeking to impose ourselves, nor do we pretend that we have the answers to all of Africa's security problems. This is why we strongly support the principle of African ownership." Scheffer said the Alliance had agreed to support the African Standby Force (ASF), and was in close contact with the African Union, standing ready to offer advice and assistance throughout its creation. "Today, we live in a world where instability in one area can very quickly affect regions far away.
"That is why NATO has begun to tackle risks and threats head-on well outside Europe - to make its unique capabilities and expertise available to the wider international community - and to work with other nations and organizations in a comprehensive approach to come to terms with challenges which affect us all."
Commenting on the pirates in Gulf of Aden and elsewhere, Scheffer said it was a "very serious challenge" that should be combated by the international community.
He said NATO's warships were already escorting food aid shipments to Somalia and patrolling the Gulf of Aden. Scheffer is expected to meet with the Asantehene and hold talks with President Kufuor.