Emmanuel Macron highlights fight against extremism on visit to west Africa


Macron said he had discussed the security situation in Mali with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his visit to Berlin earlier this week. "In fact, we work day and night", said Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The Kremlin confirmed the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin in France on may 29, where he will meet with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. "I want us to address a real reform of the right of asylum and of our current regulations to better protect those countries most subject to this migratory pressure".

"The current state of political, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian relations between Russian Federation and France are expected to be discussed during high-level talks", the statement reads.

"The Barkhane operation will only stop when there is no more Islamist terrorism in the region", Macron told journalists while visiting French troops stationed in Mali.

France will continue to fight Islamist militants in north and west Africa but other European countries should do more to contribute, the new French president Emmanuel Macron has said on his first visit to French troops fighting jihadis in Mali.

France has sent some 4,000 soldiers to the region, while United Nations' peacekeepers have been deployed to ensure Mali's stability.

The presence of French Development Agency chief Remy Rioux in the President's entourage is taken as a sign that Mr Macron wants to put more emphasis on economic development in its former colonies.

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"Our objective in the short-term is to help the regional armies control their territory, especially the fragile border zones", said the diplomat.

Macron's predecessor Francois Hollande said in January that France would boost the AFD's budget for Africa by 15 percent over the coming years to 23 billion euros ($25.7 billion).

Macron is travelling with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who as the former defense minister knows Gao well, and his replacement in that job, Sylvie Goulard.

Keita expressed his gratitude toward France for its military intervention that began in 2013 after extremist groups overran the country's vast northern region.

However, the UN's forces have lacked equipment and resources, making a political settlement between Tuaregs and the government in Mali increasingly fragile and paving the way for Islamists and traffickers to exploit a void in the north of the country. "It is in that framework that reinforced cooperation with Germany can make us all more effective".

During his campaign, Macron spoke of his desire to re-calibrate France's role on the African continent.