French President Macron to visit Côte d’Ivoire and Niger

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FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron weclomes Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou as he arrives for a lunch at the Elysee Palace as part of the Paris Peace Summit in Paris, France, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron weclomes Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou as he arrives for a lunch at the Elysee Palace as part of the Paris Peace Summit in Paris, France, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

French President Emmanuel Macron will embark on a two-nation tour of West Africa from December 20-22, the presidency announced.

Macron will first visit Côte d’Ivoire between December 20 and 21 where he is expected to meet his Ivoirian counterpart Alassane Ouattara in the capital, Abidjan.

Macron will then proceed to the Nigerien capital Niamey for a short visit with President Mahamadou Issoufou.

Macron will also pay tribute to the 71 Nigerien soldiers killed at a military base during his Niger stop.

The meeting between the two leaders is expected to give them an opportunity to prepare for a crucial security summit following the latest attack by jihadists in the region.

Macron and Issoufou announced that the summit, initially due to be held in France this month, had been pushed to January 13.

Macron invited five Sahel leaders to clarify their stance on the French military operation in the region following the helicopter crash in Mali that killed 13 French soldiers during a counterinsurgency operation.

Macron said previously that anti-French sentiments had risen as a result of its operations in the Sahel.

Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali and Chad are members of the French-backed G5 Sahel group created to fight militants in the region.

France first intervened in 2013 to help Mali halt an advance from the south by Islamist rebels from the northern desert zone.

France has been forced to reassess its strategy in the region with no prospect in the immediate term of withdrawing its 4,500 troops from the region.

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