France, Germany tighten defense cooperation in Africa’s Sahel

Germany coordinates  with 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 yesterday that 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  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.
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.

In mid-July Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled plans to develop a European fighter jet, burying past defense industry rivalries in a move designed to give fresh impetus to Franco-German relations. The ministers announced plans for a September donor conference in Berlin. French diplomats hope to bring Washington on board.
Parly met the presidents of Chad and Niger. She will travel today to a French military base in the northern city of Gao in Mali before heading to Bamako where she will meet up with Von der Leyen again.

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