Top U.S. general pledges continued military support


President Michel (right) welcoming General Abizaid at State House on Thursday

The general, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador John Price and a large contingent of military officers, was speaking to reporters following his second-ever meeting with President James Michel at State House on Thursday.

General Abizaid also debunked rumours about a potential military base to be located in Seychelles, saying there were “no real discussions” about a base but that the country would continue to serve as a transit area for visiting U.S. Navy ships.

“Clearly Seychelles is a very important location,” he said, but indicated the U.S. was interested in cooperation rather than a military base.

The general expressed satisfaction with the current level of partnership between the countries, citing a “good military-to-military relationship.”

He added that he wanted to discuss with President Michel how the U.S. could increase its support to “help Seychelles help itself” in terms of preventing the spread of terrorism, noting that given the islands’ geographic location, terrorists looking for a safe haven may use Seychelles as a transit point.

The U.S. military, said General Abizaid, would continue to train officers and personnel from the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) and the Coast Guard, as well as the authorities responsible for monitoring the country’s airport and seaport.
Responding to questions about the U.S. military presence in Iraq, the general said the key question was not violence, but whether the political scene was progressing enough to build a democratic society.

“The process of governance is moving forward,” he said, but added that the U.S. “did not underestimate the challenges in Iraq.”

During his interview General Abizaid also announced US $300,000 in tsunami aid from U.S. Central Command for Seychelles to buy equipment to prepare for similar emergencies. He lauded the country for its efforts to minimise loss of life and property in the midst of the disaster.

Earlier on Thursday morning, General Abizaid also met with SPDF Chief of Staff Colonel Leopold Payet and Minister of Foreign Affairs Patrick Pillay.

The general was last in Seychelles in September last year, when he met with President Michel for the first time.

The U.S Central Command is one of five geographically defined commands within the Department of Defense, responsible for U.S. military activity across 25 countries in Northeast Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.



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