France to withdraw troops from Niger by year end: Macron

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File photo shows French President Emmanuel Macron reviewing the troops in the gardens of the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 7, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday evening that France would withdraw its troops deployed in Niger by the end of 2023.

Speaking in a televised interview, Macron said that the 1,500 French soldiers deployed in Niger to fight against terrorism in the Sahel region would "return in an orderly manner" by the end of the year.

"We are ending our military cooperation with the de facto authorities of Niger because they no longer want to fight against terrorism," he said, adding that France would consult with the military junta to make the withdrawal "done peacefully."

"We will continue to support the African continent in the fight against terrorism, but we only do so if it is at the request of democratically elected powers and regional authorities," Macron said.

The French president also confirmed that the French ambassador to Niger would return shortly to France.

The military junta in Niger had demanded the departure of the French ambassador after the coup, but France refused. The junta then ordered the expulsion of the French ambassador at the end of August.

Relations between Niger and France took a cliff-like drop after the coup in Niger. France has suspended visa deliveries in Niger and evacuated its citizens, while Niger has closed its airspace for all French-registered aircraft.

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