Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Macron urges regional countries to make joint efforts to eliminate terrorism

Macron urges regional countries to make joint efforts to eliminate terrorism

Visiting the French forces there was one of the first things Macron had promised to do during his presidential campaign if he was elected President.

Diplomats said Macron wants to fine-tune policy to ensure countries were also given more help to develop, rather than just focusing on security aspects.

Without it, "we would not be able to operate in the area", he said.

Macron says he has no doubt the cooperation will continue, given recent comments by President Donald Trump about his commitment to eradicate terrorism.

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".

Macron said he had discussed the security situation in Mali with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his visit to Berlin earlier this week. The young French leader also vowed to address the crises that have overtaken the country, including migration, climate change and terrorism.

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

Former colonial power France intervened in 2013 to drive out al Qaeda-linked militants who seized northern Mali the year before.

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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On the day of the inauguration, which took place on May 14, the pontiff sent his good wishes for Macron's presidency and expressed hope that he will use his office to be "at the service" of France, to show "respect for life" and to embrace peace and the common good.

"Germany can not intervene, considering its doctrine, as quickly and as efficiently as France", Macron said, referring to German sensitivities about sending forces overseas except for peace missions, in part due to memories of Nazi militarism.

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

The French troops in Gao are part of Operation Barkhane, the counter-terror operation whose mission is to target militant groups operating in the Sahel region south of the Sahara.

He also met some of the 1,600 French soldiers stationed there, on the largest French military base outside of France.

"My desire in the framework of our military involvement in Africa is to do even more with Europe, more with Germany, but in a pragmatic manner", Macron told reporters during a visit to a French military base in the northern town of Gao.

Macron's schedule includes a closed door-briefing by commanders of Operation Barkhane.

The operation comprises around 4,000 soldiers who are deployed in five countries - Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso - all of which are menaced by the jihadist threat across porous borders.

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