Macron's first non-Europe trip focuses on fighting extremism

Cheryl Sanders
May 20, 2017

Palace aides said that the fuss was just the start of a tightly controlled regime that Mr Macron is imposing as part of a return to the monarchical presidency that was crafted for Charles de Gaulle. "Macron comes to see the French soldiers but not us".

In his inaugural speech, Macron called on France to rise from its decline and to overcome the factions in their society.

"My wish is for us to accelerate" the deal's implementation, Macron said at a news conference, describing the so-called Algiers Accord as the top priority to ensure Mali's security.

The French leader says he will discuss defense and security issues with Trump during a working lunch at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron (2R) poses with French troops during his visit to the France's Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Africa's Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, on May 19, 2017. That operation paved the way for the United Nations to deploy its more than 10,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping force to the West African state.

As president, he is expected to continue his predecessor's policy regarding military presence in West Africa.

He was met by Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, to discuss the threat of terrorism in the country.

Most of Northern Mali was occupied in early 2012 by Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda such as Ansar Dine.

Keita praised France for coming to Mali's aid, saying his country "will be eternally grateful to the French people for not abandoning it".

In his first visit after his inauguration, Macron acknowledged the toll on the operation's French forces when he went to a military hospital in a Paris suburb and met with two soldiers injured in Mali previous year. He is also asking Germany to provide more support to French-led efforts to eradicate them.

With France shouldering the bulk of European military operations overseas, and in particular in Africa, officials said the trip would also be an opportunity to outline his desire for a greater European role, something that France has been pushing for years, but with few tangible results.

He added that Germany and other European countries can do more to help.

Macron, who took office as France's President on Sunday, went to Mali on his second foreign trip, after first visiting Germany for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, a traditional first trip for every new French leader in the past few decades.

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