Macron's first non-Europe trip focuses on fighting extremism

Ivan Schwartz
May 20, 2017

Macron also said that he had spoken with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika about regional security on Thursday by telephone. "Macron comes to see the French soldiers but not us".

Macron said he has "no doubt" the cooperation will continue, adding that he will discuss defense and security issues with President Donald Trump during a working lunch at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on Thursday.

More than 20 French media organizations have signed an open letter to France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, to express concerns about restrictions on coverage.

Macron said in a speech to French armed forces during a visit to the West African nation that French-led military efforts aim to create the conditions of a "sustainable peace".

Sources in his entourage said 39-year-old Macron would seek to emphasize the need for closer European cooperation in the fight against jihadis, especially with EU heavyweight Germany.

Macron said he discussed the issue this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"The road is long. but we are going forward and we will succeed", Keita said.

Keita praised France for coming to Mali's aid, saying his country "will be eternally grateful to the French people for not abandoning it".

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Macron's office says that the meeting, attended by the country's most senior military and security officials, focused on the operations of French armed forces overseas -mostly in Africa's Sahel region, Iraq and Syria.

"Germany is very present in back-up operations", he said.

France wants a "new Franco-German impetus so that Europe plays a greater role in defence and security matters, especially in Africa and the Sahel", a source said.

Le Pen, Macron's rival in the second round of the presidential election, visited Russian Federation a few weeks before the vote for a highly publicized meeting with Putin.

Macron, a newcomer to worldwide diplomacy, put counter-terrorism at the top of his security priorities during the election campaign, vowing to strengthen support for West African allies. French President, Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, attends a cabinet meeting with Justice minister Francois Bayrou, right, Foreign Affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, center, Economy minister Bruno Le Maire and Budget minist. The rest of his day there Friday will be devoted nearly entirely to familiarizing himself with French troops who are combating West African extremist groups.

Set up in 2014, the operation comprises around 4,000 soldiers who are deployed across five countries - Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.

During Friday's trip to Mali, Macron will be briefed on the inner workings of Operation Barkhane. The eastern city Macron visited, Gao, is home of the permanent French military base in Mali, with 1,600 troops.

Macron repeatedly pledged ahead of the May 7 election that fighting terror would be his priority, after multiple attacks in France since 2015 that killed more than 230 people.

Other reports by GizPress

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