Burkina Faso and Niger, two countries affected by the jihadist violence that started in northern Mali in 2013, on Monday called on Bamako to "come back and assume its responsibilities" as part of sub-regional cooperation in the fight against jihadism.
In mid-May, Mali's transitional authorities, prevented from assuming the presidency, decided to withdraw from the G5 Sahel and its joint force, a military alliance fighting jihadist groups, citing a "loss of autonomy" and "instrumentalisation" within the regional organisation formed with Mauritania, Chad, Burkina and Niger.
"We reviewed (...) the sub-regional situation and we thought that Mali (...) is today the great absentee in defence cooperation," said Niger's defence minister, Alkassoum Indattou.
"We have to work so that Mali can come back and assume its responsibilities and play its role," he added.
Mr Indattou, accompanied by his counterpart, the Burkinabe Defence Minister, General Barthélemy Simporé, was speaking after a meeting with the President of the transition in Burkina Faso, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo.
"In addition to these operations, we plan to carry out more regular and permanent operations on the ground between the various armed forces to ensure that they occupy the ground, take control and cannot leave a single centimetre, either in Niger or in Burkina Faso, to the terrorists," said Mr Indattou.
From 2 to 25 April, soldiers of the two armies conducted a joint operation called Taanli 3 - "alliance" or "cohesion" in the Gulmacéma language spoken in eastern Burkina Faso - which resulted in the neutralisation of "a hundred terrorists", according to the two staffs.
Burkina Faso and its neighbour Niger have been facing regular and deadly jihadist attacks for several years, attributed to jihadist groups affiliated with the Islamic State organisation (EI) and al-Qaeda.
They have left thousands dead in both countries and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.
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