Macron says French troops to stay in Mali, wants more German support

GAO, Mali France will be uncompromising in its fight against militant Islamists in Mali and the Sahel region, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday during his first visit outside Europe's borders.

At the end of his first week in office, Macron flew into Gao, a city in Mali's deeply-troubled north, where he will hold talks with his Malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. "We will continue to commit our forces and we will remain committed to a political and diplomatic roadmap, which I'm especially dedicated to".

"Germany can not intervene, considering its doctrine, as quickly and as efficiently as France", Macron said, referring to German sensitivities about sending forces overseas except for peace missions, in part due to memories of Nazi militarism. He said German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him she backs the idea during a meeting in Berlin earlier this week.

In an interview with Challenges magazine on May 18, Russia's Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov said Moscow hoped Macron would show his autonomy compared to Hollande. "No-one can deny the necessity of the security dimension of the strategy but it's clear that you cannot solve the issue of terrorism without taking into account other factors", he added.

The French presidential Elysee Palace announced that Macron will meet Putin at the Grand Trianon, part of the sumptuous estate of the Palace of Versailles, for an exhibition about Russian emperor Peter the Great.

In a news conference during his trip to Mali, where France leads a military intervention against Islamic extremists, Macron said that without intelligence exchanges with the United States, "we would not be able to operate in the area". France's new president Emmanuel Macron has chosen for his first offic.

"The Franco-German engine must give Europe impetus to play a bigger role in crucial dossiers such as the African Sahel", the diplomat said.

France's Operation Barkhane has about 4,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

As a candidate, he stirred controversy at home by labelling France's colonial war in Algeria a crime against humanity - something which was well-received in the former colonies.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, named last week, is joining European Union finance ministers for talks Monday and Tuesday expected to focus on Greece's debt problems. 332 people were killed in attacks in Mali a year ago alone, and plenty of questions remain over the assassination of two French journalists there in 2013.

  • Leroy Wright