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Thursday, May 13, 2010

US government denies simmering diplomatic row with Ghana

President Barrack Obama of US and President Mills of Ghana during the former's visit to the West African country
President Barrack Obama of US and President Mills of Ghana during the former's visit to the West African country
The US government has denied what has been suggested as a simmering diplomatic row with Ghana following the refusal of visas to key Ghana government officials.

Ato Ahwoi, Board Chairman of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and other key government officials were refused visas to travel to the US for no specific reason, sparking huge diplomatic controversy.

The Enquirer Newspaper in its Wednesday, May 12, 2010 edition insinuated that the refusal of the visas could be linked with the ongoing controversy between Kosmos Oil, a US oil giant and the GNPC over the sale of oil shares by the former.

Speaking to Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, host of Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Wednesday, the editor of the Newspaper, Raymond Archer intimated that the Energy Minister had earlier in the year been denied a visa, in spite of holding a diplomatic passport.

But for the intervention of Ghana’s presidency, Dr Oteng Adjei would not have been granted access to the US to attend to urgent official matters, he emphasized.

According to him an official from the US consular officer had made a comment to one of the officials who had been denied the visa that officials of GNPC and the Energy Ministry were anti-US.

The refusal was therefore a diplomatic tool to whip the officials in line, he suggested.

But in a rebuttal, the Press Attache at the US Embassy in Ghana, Benjamin East told Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah the questions of diplomatic row have no basis.

He would not however explain the reasons for the refusal of the visa to Mr Ahwoi, except to say that Mr Ahwoi has been “temporarily refused” visa pending further review.

Benjamin East said further that it is unethical to comment on individual refusals.

According to him, the US government has provided sponsorship to 40 other officials both from the Energy Ministry and GNPC for a training programme on the energy offshore technology sector in the US.

That will not happen if there is a diplomatic row between the two countries, he said.

Asked if everything is fine between the US and Ghana, the press attaché said: “It looks that way to me.”

Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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