US secures long lease on Djibouti base

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iol news pic OBAMA-GUELLEH REUTERS US President Barack Obama meets with President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Washington - The United States secured long term access Monday to a military base in Djibouti that it uses to launch counter-terrorism missions, including drone strikes, in Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

US President Barack Obama and his Djibouti counterpart Ismail Omar Guelleh announced the renewed “long term lease” on Camp Lemonnier to reporters as they met at the White House.

“Camp Lemonnier is extraordinarily important to our work throughout the Horn of Africa but also throughout the region. We very much appreciate the hospitality that Djiboutians provide,” Obama said.

“Overall, this is a critical facility that we maintain in Djibouti, we could not do it without the president's cooperation, we're grateful for him agreeing for a long term presence there,” he added.

Guelleh said his East African country and the United States were linked in a “strategic partnership” to deal with “the fight against terrorism, piracy and human trafficking in our region.”

The US garrison uses Lemonnier, a base for around 4 000 US and allied personnel, as a crucial staging area for assaults on suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen and Shabaab forces in Somalia.

Washington recently agreed to move its drone base in Djibouti from Lemonnier, which is near the country's international airport, to a more remote location, following concerns over possible collisions between the unmanned planes and commercial aircraft.

Sapa-AFP


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