France will be uncompromising in its fight against militant Islamists in Mali and the Sahel region, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday during his first visit outside Europe’s borders.
Speaking alongside Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at the Gao military base in the north of the country where some 1,600 troops are based, Macron also said France was determined to act for continued security in the region, and would seek to strengthen cooperation with France’s EU partner Germany to that end.
“Germany is very present in back-up operations,” he said. “I want to strengthen that partnership and make sure that this German commitment, which is already present, can be intensified.”
“Germany knows what is at stake here (and) is also part of Europe’s security and our future. Neither France nor Germany are isolated islands.”
France has been involved in the fight against militancy in the Sahel region. Under the Operation Barkhane mission, the French join United Nations troops in counter-insurgency efforts.
Aside, Mali, the 3,000-strong force is fighting insurgents in the entire Sahel region comprising Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania.
For four years jihadist groups have targeted and controlled some areas of northern Mali. 19 French soldiers have been reported to have been killed since the operation started in 2013.
Mali has been labeled as the deadliest war front for UN peacekeepers after over 20 of them were killed last year.