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By Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
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ABUJA, Nigeria, April 5, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, on Wednesday, 3rd April 2013 met with a visiting delegation from the United States led by the US Consul General, Jeffrey Hawkins, for discussions that were dominated by the security and political developments in Mali.

They specifically discussed the proposed transformation of the Africa-led International Mission in Mali (AFISMA) into a United Nations peacekeeping force, rebel activities in the country's north, the implementation of the roadmap for elections scheduled for July 2013, as well as the dialogue for national reconciliation among the various stakeholders in Mali.

President Ouedraogo used the opportunity to commend the US Government for its continued support to ECOWAS, including the logistics depot in Lungi, Sierra Leone whose foundation was laid on 20th March 2013 at a colourful ceremony attended by various dignitaries.

He then requested US assistance for the planned summit of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, which will take place in May 2013 in Yaoundé, Cameroun.

The Yaoundé summit follows the adoption of UN Security Council Resolutions 2018 and 2039, urging countries in the two regions to take urgent steps to check piracy and armed attacks in their two areas. Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of the two Regional Economic Communities recently met in Cotonou to develop a common framework for addressing the challenge.

Consul General Hawkins whose delegation included the Department of State Deputy Director for West Africa, Jason Smith and the Political-Military Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Nigeria, Helena Stein, commended the ECOWAS president for his leadership of ECOWAS.