Port Row: ‘No Reason To Justify The Distrust And Attitude’ Of Niger, Says Benin President

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Benin President Patrice Talon has said that Niger has not responded to his country’s concerns and his Nigerien counterpart did not meet with Benin’s mining minister on a visit this week amid a dispute over exports of crude oil from Niger via a port in Benin.

Relations between the West African neighbours have been strained since a July 2023 coup in Niger led the regional bloc ECOWAS to impose strict sanctions for more than six months.

In a televised address on Thursday, Talon said that during meetings in Niamey earlier this week, Benin reiterated its customs agency was ready to cooperate with its counterpart in Niger to allow regular shipments of Nigerien oil through its port terminal.

But, he said, that would only be possible if the border was formally opened, at least to oil shipments.

He said the Nigerien delegation did not make any response to the concerns his mines minister, Samou Seidou Adambi, raised in Niamey.

“As I speak, I have not received any clarification or information from our Nigerien brothers along the lines expected by everyone,” Talon said.

On May 15, Benin provisionally reversed a decision to block exports of Nigerien oil via its port and agreed to hold a meeting between the two countries, Adambi said at the time.

But a long-term solution has not yet been agreed. Talon said he wrote a “letter of appeasement” to junta leader Abdourahamane Tchiani and asked Adambi to deliver it in person, but that Tchiani did not receive the minister.

“I go around the world asking people to come and invest in Africa … and here I am, witnessing what makes investors reluctant,” Talon said in the televised address.

“But I remain hopeful that the calming of relations between Niger and Benin will not be delayed any longer, because there is no reason to justify the distrust and attitude of our brothers in Niger; the time of protest and sanctions due to the coup that took place in Niger has passed.”

The nearly 2,000 km (1,243-mile) PetroChina (601857. SS), opens a new tab-backed pipeline was officially launched in November linking Niger’s Agadem oilfield to the Benin port of Cotonou.