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US ready to partner with friendly Africa

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By Hlengiwe Ndlovu - THE SWAZI OBSERVER-11-Sep-2009

YESTERDAY the new ambassador of the United States of America, Earl Irving, arrived in Swaziland and presented his credentials to His Majesty King Mswati III at the Lozitha palace.

Irving was accompanied by the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Sarah Morrison and political/economic officer, Craig Pike. In his remarks, Irving said his country was committed to strengthening its partnership with the African continent, and in particular nations like Swaziland that have reciprocated the United States of America’s outstretched hand of friendship.

He said when President Barack Obama nominated him to be his ambassador here, he knew he had been given an exceptional opportunity, especially because his country and Swaziland are forging a strong partnership in a number of areas. These areas include HIV and AIDS prevention and impact mitigation, anti-trafficking of people, military partnership, good governance, rule of law and economic development.

“Although we, of course, have some differences of opinion or approach, it is with the respect of true friends that we are honest with one another, and use our differences to engage even in deeper dialogue.” Ambassador Irving replaces Ambassador Maurice Parker, who departed from the country in June.

He disclosed that his first priority would be to help Swaziland stem the alarming tide of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Furthermore, he said he would also place high priority on continuing to coordinate his country’s efforts with government to address issues related to the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) and to provide credit and business training to Swazi Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through the Swaziland Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programmes administered by TechnoServe.

Meanwhile, the ambassador said his country believes that employment and economic opportunities for Swaziland are vital to maintaining regional and domestic economic stability. “We are encouraged that the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland continues to work towards taking advantage of trade opportunities and regional programmes such as our regional trade hub, which developed the Swaziland Investor Roadmap to promote business friendly economic reforms.” His Majesty thanked the American people for having supported Swaziland in many ways.

He observed that the US Peace Corps were doing an excellent job in assisting communities, adding that he was touched that these volunteers easily adapt to the Swazi way of life, despite the infrastructural differences between Swaziland and the United States of America. He thanked the United States for supporting the country in various areas, including the field of HIV and AIDS, military assistance and training for local small and medium enterprises.

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