French President Emmanuel Macron will press five West African leaders on Monday to denounce anti-French sentiment in their countries over Paris’s handling of a militia by terrorists, or risk France withdrawing troops from the region.
Macron summoned the leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Mauritania to the southwestern French town of Pau to discuss the battle against the terrorists in the Sahel, an arid region just below the Sahara desert.
The summit is being held in Pau as the town hosts a military base from which several French soldiers were killed in a helicopter collision in Mali in November.
A French presidential official said should identify the common enemy, priority areas and a common modus operandi in the face of growing losses among local troops.
France, the former colonial power, has 4,500 troops in Mali and the wider Sahel, but security has been progressively worsening.
Militants linked to al Qaeda and Daesh have strengthened their foothold, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso.