12 May 2014

West Africa: French Defence Minister Le Drian in Senegal to Boost West Africa Anti-Terror Efforts

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday met Senegalese President Macky Sall as France beefs up its counter-terror efforts in west Africa. Paris reportedly hopes that Sall will press other African leaders to send more troops to the Central African Republic.

On a four-day visit to west Africa, Le Drian was in Côte d'Ivoire on Friday and Saturday and was set to visit Mauritania on Monday.

According to the French defense ministry, the goal of the visit is to discuss military cooperation and counter-terrorism in the Sahel region.

Last week Le Drian said France would deploy 3.000 soldiers in the area.

"Terrorism in Africa is a global threat," Le Drian said in Dakar. "We intervened in Mali for the sake of the security of Mali and beyond that the whole of the sub-region but also out own security. Mali's security is also west Africa's security and France's, it's also that of Europe."

French troops in Mali found several hundred tonnes of weapons, more than were needed for the armed Islamists' there, Le Drian claimed.

Senegal has upped its contribution to the UN force in Mali, Minusma, from 590 to 800 over the last three weeks but has been reluctant to send troops to the Central African Republic, where France launched a military intervention last December.

Le Drian was to urge Sall to press other African leaders to make a greater military contribution to security drives at the next African Union summit this summer.

About 330 French military are based in Senegal at the moment on a cooperation and training mission.

France hopes to build a regional security centre based in Dakar and the Gabonese capital, Libreville.

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