The two leaders expressed their commitment to forge greater cooperation between their respective countries and integrate West Africa during their bilateral talks in Accra on Wednesday. The talks were part of the activities of the one-day visit to Ghana by President Talon. Earlier, President Akufo-Addo had met President Talon on his arrival at the Kotoka International Airport. After the exchange of greetings, the Beninois leader inspected a guard of honour mounted in his honour by a contingent of the Ghana Air Force. From the airport, the two Presidents proceeded to the Flagstaff House, where they held bilateral talks behind closed doors, after which they addressed the media. Similar views on regional issues President Akufo-Addo told the media that he was delighted to learn that he and his Beninois counterpart held similar views on sub-regional issues. He said their discussions centred on the need for a faster integration of the people of West Africa and security in the sub-region. The President described Mr Talon’s visit as significant because relations between the two countries had been renewed and also that Benin and Ghana held the same values that had spearheaded democratic governance in the sub-region. Apart from the two countries sharing similar historical and cultural ties, President Nana Akufo-Addo said, one key feature of both countries was the commitment to entrench democratic values. Integration and development For his part, President Talon said his visit was within the wider framework of enhancing cooperation between Benin and Ghana and among the countries of the sub-region. “Our region has reached a level of integration that should lead to real progress. What our forebears did not succeed in doing, we should do it now to guarantee our development,” he said. President Talon, who is married to a Ghanaian, observed that although West Africans shared socio-cultural similarities, the process of integrating the region, which would bring tangible benefits to the region, was not being pursued with the urgency it deserved. The onus, he said, “is on us as leaders to work towards the integration of the region for the benefit of our people”. He said he would be spending more of his vacation in Ghana than in Europe, stressing that “we will have to do our best for our people and get to know our countries better than Europe”. President Talon extended his country’s condolences to Ghana for the loss of seven lives and injury to 132 others in the gas explosion that occurred at the Atomic Junction, near Madina, last Saturday. Relations Ghana and Benin have, within the framework of the Permanent Joint Commission, concluded various agreements of cooperation, ranging from tourism, agriculture, road transport, telecommunications, health, extradition and civil aviation. The last protocol on military cooperation was signed in Accra in October 2011. The two have had relations bordering on politics, the economy and culture dating back to 1962. Both countries have followed similar socio-economic development strategies since attaining independence, with the two sharing similar orientation and common positions on issues of international concern.

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