Macron in Diplomatic Push on Anti-Terror Force

Macron in Diplomatic Push on Anti-Terror ForceMacron in Diplomatic Push on Anti-Terror Force

French President Emmanuel Macron, making a lightning visit to Mali, on Sunday threw his weight behind a planned Sahel force to fight jihadists but told countries their efforts had to bear fruit.

The so-called “G5 Sahel” countries -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- have pledged to set up a joint force to combat the wave of terrorist bombings, shootings and kidnappings south of the Sahara, AFP reported.

Macron, joining the heads of state in the Malian capital Bamako for a special summit, hailed the initiative as “a dynamic, a groundswell which France is proud to back”.

But, he said, “It will be up to you and your armed forces to demonstrate that the G5 can be effective, while respecting humanitarian conventions. The results have to be there to convince your partners.”

Based in Sevare in central Mali, the 5,000-strong G5 Sahel force aims to bolster 12,000 UN peacekeepers and France’s own 4,000-member Operation Barkhane, which is operating in the region.

Macron is also looking to extra backing from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States -- which already has a drone base in Niger -- beyond a pledge of 50 million euros ($57 million) made by the European Union, a sum he described as “the start of a long-term commitment”.

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