LONDON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- British Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds said engagement with African communities will help ensure regional stability and economic prosperity.
"Our aim is that our partnerships, and the diplomatic relationships at their heart will provide a forum for open and frank conversations, with the aim of driving a paradigm shift in economic growth, to the benefit of all," he said in remarks published by the British government Wednesday.
The minister said engagement was needed in a changing Middle East and North African landscape changed by revolutions and coups. A year ago, he said, Mali was overrun by al-Qaida but recovered enough to hold democratic elections during the summer.
The minister said the Mali, and countries like it, needed continual engagement in order to consolidate recent advancements.
"This is about entrenching the conditions that will provide the foundations for sustained economic growth and lasting stability," he said. "This agenda is firmly in African interests."
Simmonds said he was calling for a Foreign and Commonwealth Office that would work with African governments on the political level to ensure their long-term success.
Simmonds made his remarks to the Royal African Society, a London center promoting engagement with African communities.