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Niger president in France with Boko Haram top of the agenda


Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou is beginning an official visit to France on Monday, with talks on ending the recent surge in attacks by Boko Haram militants in his country set to dominate discussions with French President Francois Hollande.

The visit by the west African leader comes 10 days after the attack of Boko Haram in the city of Bosso on the border with Nigeria, which left 32 soldiers dead and dozens more wounded.

The town of Bosso is part of the Diffa region, where many refugees and internally displaced people have sought shelter from Boko Haram violence elsewhere. The region has been targeted numerous times in attacks blamed on Boko Haram fighters.

Issoufou, who is viewed as a key ally in fighting terrorism by both Paris and Washington, will meet the French president during a meeting at the Elysee Palace, on Tuesday afternoon.

He will later hold talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault during an official dinner on Tuesday night and with French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on Wednesday.

Before his departure Thursday morning, the Nigerien president will also meet with Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, Claude Bartolone, President of the National Assembly, and representatives of MEDEF, the main French employers’ organization.

The Nigerien head is accompanied by his ministers of defense and foreign affairs Massoudou Hassoumi and Ibrahim Yacouba respectively.

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