By Zakaria OuadghiriRabat – “We are determined to cooperate fully with our brothers in the five Sahelian countries to develop zones facing serious security threats that have an impact on the security of the entire region, including Morocco,”Head of Government Saadeddine El Othmani told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).He said that Morocco had prepared a program that would be presented at the conference concerning its actions in the Sahel region. Immediately after his arrival in the Mauritanian capital, the head of the Moroccan government held a one-on-one meeting with the Mauritanian Prime Minister Ahmed Salem Ould Bashir in the airport’s VIP lounge.The Moroccan delegation is participating in this event as a partner country. The G5 Sahel countries are seeking Morocco’s expertise in several areas, such as the fight against desertification, water control and counter-terrorism. El Othmani expressed Morocco’s determination on Wednesday in Nouakchott to strengthen its cooperation with the Sahel countries (Mauritania, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger) who face serious security threats. Read Also: El Othmani: Mohammed VI-B Satellite, a Moroccan Achievement to Be Proud ofThis Thursday’s meeting is dedicated to the organization’s Priority Investment Programme (PIP) for 2019 to 2022. The PIP is used for implementing the G5 Sahel Development and Security Strategy (SDS) and is structured around the four strategic areas of intervention (Defence & Security, Governance, Infrastructure, and Resilience & Human Development).Normally, it is the Minister of Foreign Affairs who represents the kingdom at Group meetings, as was the case in September 2017 in New York at an inter-ministerial meeting on “Security and development in a French-speaking region in solidarity” and in February 2018 in Brussels. Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita is participating in the Geneva roundtable on the resumption of negotiations on the Sahara.On the orders of King Mohammed VI, El Othmani is leading a delegation to the G5 Sahel (GHS) conference that is held on December 5 and 6 in Nouakchott, Mauritania, according to a statement from the Head of Government Department.The statement noted that this conference brings together a number of heads from both government and state, as well as representatives of donor countries to mobilize the necessary resources needed for the investment priorities program of the G5S countries.This conference is the second conference for donors to G5S countries after the one held in Brussels last February, which raised $414 million for the G5 Sahel counterterrorism task force.G5S is an institution for coordinating regional cooperation in development and security issues in West Africa. It was formed on February 16, 2014, in Nouakchott, Mauritania, at a summit of five Sahel countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
Earlier on Thursday Australian authorities claimed that a boat with some 200 asylum seekers on board capsized near Christmas Island closer to Indonesia and that the boat had originated from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan navy on Friday insisted that security along the maritime boundary of the island nation remains tight and there is no possibility of any asylum boat heading to Australia directly from Sri Lanka undetected.Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya told Xinhua that despite the end of a 30-year war with the Tamil Tiger rebels three years ago and the relaxing of several restrictions on fishing in some areas, the navy still remains on guard. Australian Home Minister Jason Clare on Friday told reporters that according to information he had received, those on board the vessel were mostly Afghan nationals.Sri Lanka and Australia have an agreement on combating human smuggling after hundreds of Sri Lankans had reached Australia by boat over the past several years seeking asylum.The Sri Lankan police last month arrested 113 people while they were attempting to go to Australia by boat illegally, and earlier this month the Sri Lankan navy arrested 53 illegal asylum seekers who were also heading to Australia. (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry on Friday said that based on preliminary reports there were no Sri Lankans on board the ship which capsized the previous day.The Sri Lankan embassy in Indonesia also said that there were no Sri Lankans among the 110 survivors who were rescued from the vessel. “There is no chance of that happening. We maintain tight security along our maritime boundary so no boat can slip through,” Warnakulasuriya said.