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President Macron arrives in Niger to advance plans for Sahel counter terrorism force

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President Macron arrives in Niger to advance plans for Sahel counter terrorism force

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Photo: VOA

Emmanuel Macron will travel to Niamey today to meet with Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou and visit the 500 French troops stationed in the west African state.

With Islamic extremism in the Sahel on the rise, counter-terrorism is likely to be the principal issue discussed between the two leaders.

In July, Macron, Issoufou and leaders from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad announced the creation of G5 Sahel—a multinational force dedicated to uprooting Islamic insurgents in the region. The force had been plagued by financial problems until Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged $150 million to the mission last week. Today, Macron and Issoufou might finally address the logistics, training and intelligence sharing arrangements required to make the force operational.

As multiple militant groups are active in the region and fighters are expected to return to West Africa from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, Issoufou will be banking on the fledgeling force to provide security to a volatile desert region the size of Europe. For his part, Macron will be hoping that the G5 Sahel can provide an out for France’s 4,000 troops currently deployed in the Sahel.

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