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13 Jan, 2020 07:51

Macron meets leaders of 5 Sahel states as France’s military role is questioned

Macron meets leaders of 5 Sahel states as France’s military role is questioned

French President Emmanuel Macron will on Monday host counterparts from five Sahel countries seeking more backing in the fight against a jihadist uprising as France’s military role is being questioned, AFP said.

Recent tensions between France and Sahel governments could make for a tricky exchange at the six-way talks in the southwestern city of Pau, to be attended also by the heads of the UN, African Union, and EU Council.

Macron insists his counterparts from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Chad must use the occasion to express public support for France’s military presence. It has been the largest foreign contribution to the fight against African jihadists aligned to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Visiting the region last month, Macron complained of a lack of “clear political condemnation of anti-French feelings” on the ground. “I see opposition movements, groups, who denounce the French presence as a neo-colonial, imperialist,” Macron said. Jihadist fighters have recently stepped up their campaign against military and civilian targets in the region.