The United Arab Emirates will pump $2.0 billion into investment and development projects in Mauritania, state media said Sunday during a visit by the country's new leader renowned for his anti-jihadist stand.
"The UAE announced on Sunday the allocation of $2 billion to fund investment and development projects, as well as a soft loan for Mauritania," the official news agency WAM reported.
The West African country's President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and other Emirati officials during the visit.
Many see Ghazouani, a onetime chief of general staff, as the mastermind behind a security strategy that has kept jihadist movements out of Mauritania even as they ravaged parts of neighbouring Mali.
Mauritania's defence ministry on Thursday denied media reports that the UAE was constructing a military base in the country.
Mauritania -- along with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger -- is part of the G5 Sahel force fighting jihadists in Africa's Sahel region.
It is also a member of a Saudi-led military coalition battling Huthi rebels in Yemen, although it has not sent troops to the front.
With a GDP of $5.2 billion in 2018 according to the World Bank, it ranks among the poorest countries in the world despite rich deposits of gold, iron and copper.
Ghazouani has consolidated his grip on power since taking office in August, the first transfer of power between two elected heads of state in a country shaken by multiple coups d'etat from 1978 to 2008.
The UAE, which has used its vast oil wealth to promote itself as a regional tourism, banking and services hub, has a zero-tolerance policy against extremism.
Sheikh Mohammed tweeted that a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed with Ghazouani.
"Our countries have a long history of strong relations. Today, we have many opportunities to deepen these ties, enhance cooperation in various fields and consult on issues and developments in the region," he said.
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