Macron visits French troops in Mali's deeply-troubled north

During his campaign, Macron told an African magazine, "I realize that France is not the only country affected by terrorism".

Without it, "we would not be able to operate in the area", he said.

The new president discussed the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday during his first visit to a foreign leader since taking power.

He also met European Council President Donald Tusk over lunch on Wednesday in Paris, saying he said to wanted to start working immediately on the overhaul of the bloc.

Addressing a joint news conference with Malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Gao today, he praised a crucial and exemplary intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States for military operations in Africa's Sahel region.

Macron has said he intends to keep his distance from the press in an effort to restore the authority of the presidential office which he felt was damaged under his gossip-loving predecessor Francois Hollande.

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Macron's first non-European trip as President of France has been to Mali.

French President Emmanuel Macron wears a Paris 2024 pin and waves goodbye after a meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission at the Elysee Place in Paris, France May 16, 2017.

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.

On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a scheduled visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa.

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

Speaking alongside Malian President Keita, Macron promised that France would be "uncompromising" in its fight against militant Islamists in Mali and the Sahel.

Even though the French operation has succeeded in liberating Timbuktu and Gao in Northern Mali, FIDH has said in a report that few signs of progress can be found two years after the peace accord.

Most of the terrorists in the region trace their origins to al-Qaida's North Africa branch.

Gao, the home of France's permanent military base, was hit by a devastating bomb attack in January that killed more than 75 people.

  • Leroy Wright