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

Posted May 28, 2017

The French election was held amid concern over meddling by Russian Federation following USA intelligence officials' conclusion that Putin ordered a hacking and propaganda campaign to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.

Operation Barkhane is France's largest overseas military mission and was launched after extremist groups overran northern Mali in 2012.

The planned meeting comes after a French presidential campaign where Macron's team repeatedly alleged that Moscow had taken sides against their candidate.

French President Emmanuel Macron says his new administration will push for an worldwide debt relief deal for austerity-weary Greece.

GAO, Mali (AP) - On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday highlighted his determination to crush extremism but said "other countries can do more" to help protect Europe from the threat.

"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.

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Speaking during a trip to Mali, where some 4,000 French soldiers are deployed, Macron said France would work in close cooperation with Germany, but called on other European Union states to support military and development efforts in the region. As he landed in Gao, Macron was met by Keita with whom he will hold talks on the fight against terrorism and the west African country's rocky path since a 2015 peace deal. Macron said he spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week about getting more logistical support and said Merkel backs the idea.

Macron, a newcomer to worldwide diplomacy, put counter-terrorism at the top of his security priorities during the election campaign, vowing to strengthen support for West African allies.

The German government earlier this year approved an expansion of the country's military deployment in Mali, with Berlin sending more helicopters to support the United Nations peacekeeping mission there and raising the maximum number of German soldiers from 650 to 1,000.

He also will have lunch with troops, tour a surgical unit, have a briefing on military operations and give a speech to French forces.

France has been particularly hard hit by Islamist militant violence, with more than 230 people killed over the past two years.

France intervened in Mali back in 2013 to drive out al-Qaida-linked militant forces in the north of the country. Set up in 2014, the operation comprises around 4,000 soldiers who are deployed across five countries-Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.