Page last updated at 09:06 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 10:06 UK

US Africom 'has no hidden agenda'

General Ward addressing his troop (Photo: Africom:
General Ward said it was a "myth" to think the US wanted big bases

The head of the new US military command for Africa (Africom) has told the BBC it has "no hidden agenda".

General William Ward said the command would not be used to gain control of African natural resources such as oil.

He also dismissed fears that the US intended to build large military bases on the continent.

Only one country, Liberia, has offered to host Africom, which is coming into full operation at its headquarters in the German city of Stuttgart.

General Ward said the location of the headquarters, for its 1,300 military and civilian personnel, was less of a concern, given the size of the African continent.

We will do those things in partnership with our African friends
General William Ward

The BBC's Adam Mynott says the creation of Africom is a recognition by the US that Africa and security issues on the continent are now a priority.

It reflects concerns about tackling Islamist extremism, securing oil supplies, and countering Chinese influence in Africa, he says.

But its creation has been met with considerable scepticism, our correspondent says.

However General Ward said Africom did not intend to help the US get control of more of Africa's oil and other resources.

"There is no hidden agenda. It is about working with the African nations to help them build their capacity," the general told the BBC's World Today programme.

He said it was a "myth" and "absolutely not the case" that the command was going to build big bases in Africa.

"We will do those things in partnership with our African friends," he said.

"Where we bring in, for instance, trainers or other forms of military support and assistance there, they are only so long as is required to conduct the specific training that we've been asked to do or to conduct the specific activities."

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UPI General says U.S. has no designs on Africa - 4 hrs ago
London Review of Books Perry Anderson: After Kemal - 7 hrs ago
Washington PostAfricans wary on new US command for continent - 18 hrs ago
San Luis Africans wary on new US command for continent - 23 hrs ago
Telegraph US launches African military command - 23 hrs ago
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