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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
West holds Africa security talks
By Martin Plaut
BBC Africa analyst

Members of the Nigerian army engage militants in a gun battle near the shores of Warri seaport in 2003
The security of oil in Nigeria's Delta State is a key concern
Military officers from the US and Europe are reported to have met to discuss terrorism and the security of oil supplies in Africa.

US officials say the meeting is the first in a series designed to provide the main forum for an exchange of security information about Africa.

The US has already announced plans to help Africa create five rapid reaction brigades to fight terrorism.

No African official was present at the meeting, held in Luxembourg last week.

But the African Union will be invited to the next meeting - which is planned for later this year.

African 'clearing house'

This was a gathering of senior military officers from European powers that once colonised Africa, along with the US, Canada and the UN.

The aim: to establish what is being called an African clearing house - to share information on security co-operation on the continent.

"Africa can no longer be regarded as a tertiary effort," said US delegation head Colonel Mike Anderson.

"It is a focus of US military policy.

"And it's a focus because we realise that we need to be proactive versus reactive, in terms of dealing with some of the issues that we are dealing with elsewhere in the world - terrorism, illegal immigration, arms trafficking - and the best way to do that is to be proactive in sowing the seed corn of stability and security in Africa."

This was an attempt to involve America's allies in its thinking about security in a continent that is becoming increasingly important in terms of oil, and as a possible source of instability.


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