By Dipo Olowookere
The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has disclosed that it would soon establish an embassy in Bamako, the capital of Mali.
Business Post learnt that the Norwegian Embassy in Bamako is due to be opened in the summer of 2017.
A statement issued Friday by the ministry disclosed that this will further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Børge Brende, also stated that this will “enable us to have a closer dialogue on the security challenges facing Mali and the wider Sahel region.”
Mr Brende added that, “Norway’s efforts in Mali are part of our focus on fragile states and on countering violent extremism.
“Promoting peace and stability in the Sahel will be important for fostering growth and development, and for preventing high rates of migration from the region in the future.”
Mali is one of the focus countries in Norway’s development policy, and Norway wishes to be a long-term partner with a view to promoting peace, security and development in the country.
“Our future cooperation was a key topic when I met Mali’s Foreign Minister, Mr Abdoulaye Diop, this week in connection with the UN General Assembly.
“Mr Diop welcomed the news that Norway is to establish an embassy in Bamako. The authorities in Mali have wanted a Norwegian diplomatic presence in the country,” the Norwegian Minister further said.
Norway’s engagement in Mali dates back to the time of the drought in the country in the 1980s. Broad cooperation was established, involving Norwegian civil society groups and international partners, to prevent famine, poverty and conflict in the region.
Since then, Norway’s engagement has been expanded, and today includes efforts to promote education, peace and reconciliation, and support for processes of stabilisation and democratisation. Norway’s participation in MINUSMA has strengthened the Government’s peace efforts in the region.
The Government has recently stepped up Norway’s efforts to promote stabilisation and conflict resolution in the Sahel region.
Developments in Mali in the time ahead will be of great importance for the region as a whole. Norway’s contribution to the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has added an extra dimension to Norway’s efforts in the Sahel.
Earlier this year, Mr Brende and Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide visited Mali for political talks and for meetings with Norwegian military personnel.