MOSCOW, May 30. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomed on Monday African countries’ readiness for joint work to fight global challenges, also expressing concern over tensions persisting in some African countries.
"We welcome readiness of the African people for joint work in fight against global challenges, first of all against international terrorism whose unprecedented outbreak we are witnessing at the moment in many African countries," Lavrov said at a traditional reception marking Africa Day.
"It is evident that social-economic progress on the continent is inseparable from the settlement of tasks to strengthen peace and stability," the top diplomat noted. "Within this context we express concern over persisting tension in South Sudan, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Burundi," he added.
The foreign minister also highlighted the task "of maintaining statehood in Libya through making contribution to a true national reconciliation, seeing an end to interference into internal affairs of that country, and not letting it turn into a hotbed of terrorism."
Lavrov has also stressed Russia's interest in expanding ties with African countries.
"It is hard to overestimate the importance of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity, a predecessor of the African Union, in 1963," he said at a foreign ministry reception on the occasion of the Africa Day. "Our country has always been standing for the freedom of African nations, has always been helping them in their striving towards independence."
"Today, Africa’s role as a pillar of the polycentric world order is consistently growing," Lavrov stressed. "Russia supports the Africans in their striving to play a decisive role in the development of their own continent."
The Russian top diplomat noted with satisfaction the positive tendency of economic and political integration in Africa.
"Russia is interested in further expansion of ties with the African Union, with sub-regional associations," he said. "It was in focus of talks with the African Union president this April in Moscow."
A major area of cooperation between Russia and African countries, according to the Russian top diplomat, is training national specialists. "The number of African students studying at Russian higher educational establishments is growing year after year," he said. "Now, this number has exceeded 10,000 people, with about half of them sponsored by the Russian federal budget."
"We are thankful for the high estimate of Russia’s contribution into the anti-Ebola efforts that was voiced during the African Union summit," Lavrov said. "Our country contributed more than 60 million U.S. dollars to curtail this dangerous disease. We will continue to take effort to prevent outbreaks of diseases on that continent."
Moscow also attaches greater significance to humanitarian assistance to African countries which "are suffering from crises and military conflicts, natural calamities and man-made disasters," the Russian foreign minister said. "We will continue to support Africa both on the bilateral basis and within discussions of Africa-related topics at multilateral forums, including the United Nations, the Group of Twenty and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)."
"I am confident that closer partnership resting on the time-tested traditions of friendship, principles of equality and mutual respect is in the interests of our peoples and promote global and regional security and stability," Lavrov underscored.