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France to draw down Sahel operation, Macron says

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French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference ahead of the G7 Summit, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, June 10, 2021.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference ahead of the G7 Summit, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, June 10, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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French President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to reduce France's military presence in Africa's Sahel region.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Macron said France's counter-terrorism operation in West Africa would eventually be brought to an end and incorporated into a broader international mission.

Speaking of the "profound transformation" of France's military operation in Mali and neighbouring countries, Macron "the final goal is to reduce our multiple military deployments" in the region.

He did not provide a timeline for the drawdown, however, with France currently having more than 5,000 troops in the Sahel.

The French president said the operation would be replaced by another mission focused on fighting Islamic extremists that will be focused more on cooperation with regional partners.

Details of that plan will be revealed at the end of June, he said.

"France is in Africa only at the request of Africans ... to fight against terrorism," Macron said.

"But the shape of our presence, an operation abroad involving 5,000 troops, is not adapted any more to the reality of the combats," he said.

Earlier, AFP had reported that Macron was expected to announce a partial withdrawal of French troops, particularly in Mali.

Citing three sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the press agency had said the issue was expected to be discussed at a defence council meeting.