Ambassador Verma meets island-countries’ leaders in Africa, Indian Ocean

Ambassador Richard Verma, left, at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new US Embassy in Mauritius, May 30, 2023. PHOTO: Twitter videograb @richardverma

Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma traveled to Mauritius on May 29-30, Comoros Islands on May 30-31, and Seychelles on May 31-June 1, in a bid to show Washington wished to elevate its partnerships across a demonstration of the U.S. elevating its partnerships across Africa and deepen engagement in the Indian Ocean Region.

He is the most senior State Department official to ever visit Comoros, and the most senior State Department official in over 20 years to visit Mauritius and Seychelles.

In Mauritius, Deputy Secretary Verma met Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth and took part in the ground-breaking for a new $300 million U.S. Embassy compound, “which reflects the continued growth of an already robust bilateral relationship,” the State Department said in a press release prior to the visit.

The Deputy Secretary and Prime Minister Jugnauth planned to discuss continued cooperation in advancing shared values and interests in the Indian Ocean Region, including improving maritime security and promoting sustainable development that supports tourism and the blue economy.

The Deputy Secretary was also scheduled to meet President Prithivirajsing Roopun, Opposition Leader Xavier-Luc Duval, and other officials. While in Mauritius, he also met with Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Secretary General Salman Al Farisi, where he underscored Washington’s commitment to the Indian Ocean Region and shared goals, especially in areas of climate resilience, protecting oceans, food security, and global health.

In Comoros, Verma was to meet with President and AU Chairperson Azali Assoumani and other government officials to discuss the bilateral relationship, U.S. engagement in the region, and Comoros’s leadership of the African Union this year. The visit was meant to highlight five key areas where the US and Comoros are making significant progress together: democracy and governance, development assistance and food security, security cooperation, economic and commercial engagement, and people-to-people ties.

In Seychelles, Ambassador Verma  met President Wavel Ramkalawan in Victoria, June 1, according to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller. The two discussed increasing bilateral cooperation on a number of shared priorities, including maritime security, climate change, and anti-corruption. Verma commended Seychelles’ “exemplary commitment to and leadership on ocean conservation and the blue economy,” the State Department said.

Ramakalawan welcomed the opening of a U.S. embassy in Seychelles, returning to a full-time diplomatic presence for the first time since 1996.

“This decision highlights the importance the United States places on its relationship with Seychelles and commitment to enhancing the already strong ties between the two countries,” Miller said.

In addition to meeting Foreign Minister Sylvestre Radegonde and Anti-Corruption Commissioner May de Silva, Verma led a roundtable discussion on democracy and free speech with Seychelles youth, some of whom have in the past, participated in exchange visits to the United States.



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