France foreign minister in Ivory Coast for talks

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France foreign minister has visited Ivory Coast for talks on security and trade with President Alassane Ouattara and his government.

Speaking in the economic capital Abidjan, Catherine Colonna said France will remain at the side of its former French colony “in all areas.”

Around 900 French soldiers are stationed in Ivory Coast and France is one of its biggest investors.

“France believes in the potential of Ivory Coast,”¬†she said.

“It is ready, willing and has shown it to accompany its progress, especially through the programme that has worked very well and continues, the famous contract of debt reduction and development that allows us to be the first foreign investor in Ivory Coast, with good results.”

Colonna also met with her Ivorian counterpart Kandia Camara, who told her she was concerned about what she called “terrorists” crossing over from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso.

Both countries are struggling to defeat Islamic insurgencies.

“Insecurity is everywhere”, but “in terms of security, we have always benefited from the support of France”, said Camara.

The French foreign minister was due to meet Defence Minister Birahima Ouattara, who is the president’s brother, to discuss security issues.

Colonna also stressed that one of Ivory Coast’s challenges is to prevent young people from falling into the hands of jihadists by promoting growth, and providing employment.

And she promised to “make up for the delay” in issuing visas, especially for students.


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