MONTPELIER (AP) - Gov. Peter Shumlin and the president of the west African nation of Senegal said Friday they were looking forward to expanding cooperation began by the Vermont National Guard and Senegalese military into civilian areas such as education, agriculture and energy.
"We are very committed to work with you, together, and to exchange experiences," Senegal President Macky Sall said during brief public remarks after he met privately with Shumlin and other state officials during a visit to the Vermont Statehouse.
Sall encouraged young Vermonters to "come to Africa and to know how people are living there and how at this age they can build relationships with their counterparts in Africa."
Shumlin said that even though Senegal and Vermont are on different continents, they are facing similar challenges.
"President Sall is dealing with the same issues we are," Shumlin said. "Access to affordable health care, jobs and job creation for the people of Senegal, ensuring they achieve an energy policy that makes sense and powers Senegal and most importantly education."
After Shumlin and Sall met, officials planned to get together to look for areas where they could turn those broad goals into concrete proposals.
Sall was in Washington earlier this week as part of a group of African leaders who met with President Barack Obama.
The Vermont National Guard has been involved with a partnership with the Senegalese military since 2008.
The program helps provide technical expertise to the other countries while building long-term relationships between the military leaders in those countries and guardsmen and women in the U.S.
Over the years, the Vermont Guard has sent scores of delegations to Senegal, and there have been a number of visits to Vermont by the Senegalese military. They have done things such as working to set up military firing ranges and to show how the military responds to natural disasters, said Vermont Guard Col. Daniel Pipes, the guard's top strategic planner.