France in talks with Niger officials over troop withdrawal

2023-09-06 19:44:37
France in talks with Niger officials over troop withdrawal

France has started talks with officials in Niger over the withdrawal of "illegal" French troops following the recent military takeover in the West African country.

However, neither the number of French soldiers involved nor the timing of their departure have been decided, Le Monde said in a report, citing several unidentified French sources close to the matter.

These talks took place a month after the denunciation of the military cooperation agreements between Paris and Niamey by the ruling junta amid mass rallies taking place with protesters calling for the French forces to leave.

"Discussions on the withdrawal of certain military elements have begun," several French sources familiar with the matter confirmed to Le Monde.

“It is normal to discuss it insofar as anti-terrorist cooperation has been interrupted” since the July 26 coup, added one of them.

At this stage, neither the number of soldiers concerned nor the terms of this departure have been officially decided, but the principle is accepted, the report said.

Currently, some 1,500 French soldiers are deployed in the country, on three bases: in the capital, Niamey, in Ouallam, north of the capital, and in Ayorou, near the border with Mali.

Some units could be redeployed in the region, particularly in neighboring Chad, or be directly repatriated to Paris.

Until now, the French authorities had always rejected requests for the withdrawal of the French troops in Niger, contesting the legitimacy of the junta in power.

Paris has also refused to recall the ambassador, Sylvain Itte, to the French capital. And, Paris has demanded the return to power of President Bazoum, with whom France's President Emmanuel Macron remained in contact.


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