Hague hails trip to Mauritania
William Hague has become the first British Foreign Secretary to visit the African state of Mauritania.
Mr Hague said that his visit to the vast Saharan desert state, which gained independence from France in 1960, was "a sign of our interest in a closer partnership with Mauritania over the coming years, and of Mauritania's growing role in regional issues".
Britain wants to engage on security and foreign policy issues with Mauritania, which is due to reopen its embassy in London, he said.
Speaking at the end of his visit, Mr Hague said: "We wish to engage with Mauritania as serious partners in security and foreign policy. Mauritania is in the frontline of the growing security threat from al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and is an important partner for discussions on Libya, Cote d'Ivoire and wider African issues.
"But the purpose of my visit was not just to discuss security. We are looking at ways we can help Mauritania on political reform, good governance and human rights, all of which are essential to Mauritania's future development."
Mr Hague discussed the possibility of UK support for building civil society and democracy through the Arab Partnership Initiative.
"The lesson of the Arab Spring is that demands for political freedom and economic development will grow, and we wish to help our partners who are seeking to meet the aspirations of their people," he said.
"I also discussed the potential for an expanded economic relationship between Britain and Mauritania, as well as our support for greater trade between Europe and the Maghreb and the countries of the region themselves. This could transform the economic prospects of Mauritania and its neighbours, and underpins democratic development.
"For all these reasons this was an important and landmark visit and we look forward to building on the co-operation we have established today. As a sign of this we are delighted that Mauritania has expressed its intention to reopen an Embassy in London."