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Rwanda, Benin talk military cooperation over border security

Beninese President Patrice Talon attends a joint press conference with his French counterpart at the Marina palace in Cotonou on July 27, 2022   -  
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LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP or licensors


Rwanda's President Paul Kagame met Saturday with his Benin counterpart Patrice Talon, promising military support to help the country contain spillover from jihadist conflict across its northern border with Burkina Faso.

West Africa coastal nations Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast are preparing for a potential spillover as Burkina Faso struggles to contain an Islamist militant insurgency gaining ground just across their northern borders.

Benin last year said it was in talks over military and logistical cooperation with Rwanda, whose troops Kagame has already dispatched to help Mozambique and Central African Republic combat unrest.

"We are ready to work with Benin to prevent anything that may happen around its borders," Kagame said at a press conference with Talon in Cotonou.

"There will be no limit" in what "will be accomplished together for security challenges".

Details about the cooperation were not immediately clear, though the Benin leader said it could include "supervision, coaching, training, joint deployment".

Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast have already suffered attacks in border areas blamed on jihadists, while Ghana recently reinforced military presence along its own northern frontier.

Talon and Kagame had a one-on-one meeting to discuss relations between the two countries and "the search for strategic partnership" in several areas including security, Benin's foreign ministry said in a statement.

They discussed "the terrorist threat and its spread" as well as the means of strengthening cooperation to deal with it, the statement said.

"The Rwandan army has experience and is seasoned," Talon said.

Benin's military is battling an expanding threat from jihadist conflicts across its northern border in Burkina Faso and Niger, with around 20 incursions since 2021.

A top Benin government official had said last year any agreement would not provide for deployment of Rwandan troops on the ground in Benin.

Benin's Armed Forces Chief of Army Staff, Brigadier General Fructueux Gbaguidi visited Rwanda last year for talks to deepen the existing relations between the two armies.

Gulf of Guinea states have increased their military presence in northern border regions, with Togo imposing a state of emergency in its far northern provinces. Ghana recently sent 1,000 more troops and police to its northern border region.

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