Russia will boost its military cooperation with Mozambique, where suspected Islamist militants have carried out attacks in the gas-rich African nation’s north.
The two countries will form a working group to develop collaboration, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters Wednesday in the Mozambican capital, Maputo. Lavrov is on a five-nation tour of Africa and spoke after talks with his counterpart Jose Pacheco and Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.
“We have common positions with our Mozambican partners that a global priority is to create a front in the fight against terrorism,” Lavrov said. “The terrorist threat continues, despite the efforts many countries make.”
Mozambican police have arrested more than 300 people since October after raids in Mocimboa da Praia in northeast Mozambique, the first of which targeted police stations and the government blamed on a “radical Islamic sect.” Sporadic attacks have continued, including raids on a health center and a government building in January, although authorities haven’t said they’re linked.
The attacks have occurred near the Rovuma basin, where companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., Eni SpA and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. have gas projects. The development of the deposits could make the southeastern African nation the world’s fourth-biggest natural gas exporter. Rosneft PJSC, Russia’s largest oil producer, was awarded three licenses for offshore blocks in partnership with Exxon Mobil in 2015.
Russia’s relations with Mozambique date back to the 1960s, when the Soviet Union backed the Marxist Mozambique Liberation Front’s fight against Portuguese colonial rule.