France and its five partner nations in the Sahel region of West Africa pledged Monday to bolster their fight against jihadists waging an increasingly deadly insurgency, while urging allies to join their effort to restore government control across the vast region.
President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Chad also called on Washington to maintain its “crucial support”, after a top US general confirmed the Pentagon was weighing a drastic troop reduction in Africa.
“The heads of state… underscored the need for greater cooperation in implementing the current initiatives in the Sahel and a stronger international commitment,” the leaders said after a summit in Pau, southwest France.
At a press conference after the talks, Mr Macron said he would send 220 more soldiers to reinforce France’s 4,500-strong Barkhane operation, tasked with training and assisting under-equipped and strained local forces.
The so-called G5 leaders also urged joint efforts to help end the civil war in Libya, “which continues to foster instability in the Sahel,” according to the statement.