Lavrov to Discuss Security and Development with Sierra Leone's Foreign Minister in Moscow

07 May

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to meet with Sierra Leone's Foreign Minister Timothy Kabba in Moscow on Tuesday. The discussions will center around security issues in Africa, regional development, and bilateral cooperation between the two countries.


The Russian Federation and Sierra Leone have maintained ongoing communication across various governmental departments, including Foreign Ministries, Education Ministries, and Energy Ministries. Last November, Sierra Leone's Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Haja Ramatulai Wurie, and Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Julius Mattai, visited Moscow for talks with Russian officials. Notably, they met with Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian President's Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa. The last high-level diplomatic dialogue between the two nations occurred in May 2021 when David John Francis, Sierra Leone's then-Foreign Minister, visited Moscow to discuss conflict resolution, counter-terrorism efforts in Africa, and signed an agreement facilitating visa-free travel for diplomats.


The upcoming talks are expected to cover a wide range of topics, including conflict resolution in Africa, developments in Ukraine, the situation in the Gaza Strip, and other pertinent international matters.


Addressing security challenges


Sierra Leone has encountered several security challenges recently, notably an attempted coup d'état in November last year, resulting in President Julius Maada Bio imposing a month-long curfew. Former President Ernest Bai Koroma was subsequently charged with treason as part of the coup investigation. The proliferation and abuse of drugs present another significant threat, leading President Bio to declare a national state of emergency. Food security is also a pressing issue, likely to be addressed during the discussions.


The parties are expected to discuss regional conflicts and counter-terrorism efforts, particularly in the Sahara-Sahel region and West Africa.


During the talks, it is possible that the ministers will discuss the opening of the Russian embassy in Sierra Leone. Following the second Russia-Africa summit, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced its intention to open additional foreign missions and increase staff in African countries. Sierra Leone has also previously expressed anticipation for the opening of a Russian diplomatic mission in Freetown. The Russian House has already been established there, having opened on May 9, 2023.


Both parties also recognize tourism as a promising direction. Timothy Kabba has previously expressed his belief that Sierra Leone is an attractive destination for Russian tourists. The Russian Foreign Ministry has similarly acknowledged the republic's potential to become a popular destination for Russians.


In this context, the foreign ministers of both countries may discuss the resumption of direct air communication and the simplification of the visa regime. Currently, Russian citizens require a visa to travel to Sierra Leone, although it can be obtained online. The Banana Islands, known for their sandy coasts, are the primary tourist destination in Sierra Leone. The interlocutors are also likely to discuss cooperation in the humanitarian sphere and the training of national personnel.

Exploring economic opportunities


Both sides aim to revive economic cooperation, including projects postponed due to the pandemic. Vimetco, a company with Russian participation that is currently operating successfully in Sierra Leone, had planned to commission an aluminum hydroxide plant in 2020. However, due to the pandemic, its implementation has been postponed. Therefore, the talks may address the issues of restoring cooperation in this area and preparing new projects.


Both parties have expressed interest in increasing trade turnover and strengthening cooperation in subsoil use. A memorandum on subsoil use was signed earlier, as highlighted by Minister of Natural Resources Alexander Kozlov. This document will facilitate geological and geophysical research, deposit assessments, and the creation of geological maps.



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Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry

Based on materials from TASS