Germany's Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, came to Senegal Sunday for talks with President Macky Sall, including discussions about getting gas supplies from the West African nation.
Sall used the visit to announce his willingness to mediate the Russian conflict in Ukraine. Senegalese President Macky Sall said he would visit Moscow and Kyiv in the coming weeks in his capacity as chairman of the African Union, which he said was intended to seek peace through dialogue between the two sides.
Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Sall said: "We do not want to be aligned on this conflict, very clearly, we want peace. Even though we condemn the invasion, we're working for a de-escalation, we're working for a ceasefire, for dialogue. That is the African position."
The Russsian-Ukrainian conflict has worried Europe about the reliability of its gas supplies from Moscow. Senegal is believed to have significant deposits of natural gas along its border with Mauritania at a time when Germany and other European countries are trying to reduce their dependence on importing Russian gas.
“We have begun exchanges and we will continue our efforts at the level of experts because it is our wish to achieve progress,” Scholz said at a joint news briefing with Senegalese President Macky Sall.
The gas project off the coast of Senegal is being led by BP, and the first barrels are not expected until next year.
This week’s trip marks Scholz’s first to Africa since becoming chancellor nearly six months ago. Two of the countries he is visiting — Senegal and South Africa — have been invited to attend the Group of 7 summit in Germany at the end of June.
German officials also said Scholz will make a stop in Niger, a country that like its neighbors has long been battling Islamic extremists.
Earlier this month, the German government backed a plan to move hundreds of its soldiers to Niger from neighboring Mali. The development comes amid a deepening political crisis in Mali that prompted former colonial power France to announce it was withdrawing its troops after nine years there.
Germany officials say their decision also was motivated by concerns that Malian forces receiving EU training could cooperate with Russian mercenaries now operating in the country.