Fidan hosts Mauritanian FM for talks on Gaza and the Sahel region

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan received his Mauritanian counterpart, Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug, in Istanbul on Sunday to discuss the latest developments in the Sahel region and the Gaza Strip.

“Türkiye cares deeply about peace, security and permanent stability in the Sahel region, which is facing serious security tests and significant transformation,” Fidan told reporters after their meeting.

“The security of this region is crucial for all of Africa, and Türkiye is prioritizing increasing the capacity of regional countries to fight terrorism,” Fidan said.

The Turkish diplomat praised Mauritania as a “symbol of stability” in a turbulent region and period and stressed the need for the two countries to lead multilateral efforts in security, economic and social development.

“Türkiye will continue to fight for the economic prosperity of the Sahel region,” he assured.

He cited Mauritania’s determined stance to halt the bloodshed in Gaza since the Israeli attacks began.

“They have pursued a sensitive policy, just like Türkiye,” Fidan noted. We have agreed to continue working towards an immediate ceasefire and uninterrupted delivery of aid to Gaza.”

Fidan also last week described the United States’ veto of a Palestinian request for full UN membership as “an injustice to the Palestinian people” and reiterated Türkiye’s call for the international community to “fully recognize” Palestine.

The central Sahel region, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, is facing a serious humanitarian and protection crisis that has already displaced more than 4 million people from their homes, according to a 2023 UNHCR report.

The political, security and economic situation, marked by repeated coups, intense and spreading armed conflict and extreme poverty, is expected to deteriorate further in 2024, the UN agency recently warned.

Bilateral relations

Drawing attention to the historic ties between Mauritania and Türkiye, Fidan also said: “We greet our sister nation Mauritania, with which we have historic ties and humanitarian proximity.”

He mentioned the approximately 30,000 Turkish citizens of Mauritanian descent who live in the Kozan district of the southern Turkish province of Adana. Mauritanians fought in the vanguard during the National Struggle in 1920.

According to diplomatic sources, the Turkish embassy in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott was established in 2011, while the Mauritania embassy in Ankara was opened in 2010.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Mauritania on February 28, 2018 marked Türkiye’s first presidential-level visit to Mauritania and gave impetus to bilateral ties.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani visited Türkiye in December 2021 as part of the third Türkiye-Africa Partnership Summit.

Commercial relations between the two countries have improved: the bilateral trade volume will reach $174.6 million in 2023 and $53.6 million in the first three months of 2024.

According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, there are about 20 to 25 Turkish fishing vessels operating in the town of Nouadhibou in Mauritania. This underlines the scale of Turkish investments in Mauritania, which total almost $200 million.