Top U.S. NCOs meet with international counterparts

ACCRA, Ghana — Navy Adm. Harry Ulrich, commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, met with Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuour, during a recent visit here.

Ulrich also met with Ghanaian Minister of Defense Kwame Addo Kufuour and the Ghana chief of naval staff, Rear Adm. Sampa Nuno, among other leaders.

The leaders discussed ongoing cooperative naval efforts between Ghana and the United States. Maritime safety and security was at the forefront of the discussions. Ulrich is working with Ghana and other leaders in the Gulf of Guinea region to enhance cooperative maritime safety and security efforts in the area.

U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, is working to establish a series of sites connected by a computer network and coastal radars that would allow Gulf of Guinea nations to track ships at sea, alerting them to ships engaged in suspicious activities. Success in this area could economically benefit the Gulf of Guinea region, the admiral said.

"Our ultimate success will be determined by the strength of the partnerships we develop and our combined will to work towards a common goal," Ulrich said. "It is important to everyone in this region that safe access to the sea is maintained."

The current threats to open commerce in the Gulf of Guinea include poaching of fisheries and piracy.

The meetings with Ghanaian leadership were "very encouraging," Ulrich said.

"We have an enduring partnership with Ghana, and I only see that relationship getting stronger," Ulrich said. "President Kufuour was very focused on the issue of maritime safety and security. We have shared concerns, and I think a mutually agreeable approach to the way ahead."

In March, Ghana will host the Gulf of Guinea Regional Maritime Safety and Security workshop. Numerous Gulf of Guinea nations and South Africa will attend the workshop, which is jointly sponsored by U.S. European Command; U.S. Naval Forces, Europe; and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

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