France, Germany tighten defense cooperation in Africa's Sahel

By REUTERS
August 1, 2017 01:10
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NIAMEY- Germany on Monday lent support to France's push to make operational a new multinational military force that will tackle Islamist militants in Africa's Sahel region and urged other powers to contribute funds at an Autumn donor conference.

On a joint visit to Niger's capital, Niamey, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart, Florence Parly, said the Sahel force was West Africa's best hope for defeating the militants.

Some observers see the G5 Sahel force -- comprised of troops from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad -- as forming the basis of an eventual exit strategy for around 4,000 French troops deployed in the volatile region. France has said it has no plans to withdraw them -- a stance reiterated by Parly in Niamey.

"We need to find other European partners. Italy, Spain and others have already expressed an interest," the German minister said before leaving Niamey, where she announced the supply of military equipment to Niger.

Parly and Von der Leyen's trips are the latest show of tightening defense and security cooperation between Berlin and Paris since Emmanuel Macron became French president in May.

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