Macron in Chad to meet soldiers amid extremist threats
PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron is traveling to Chad for a two-day visit to meet with French soldiers deployed in the Sahel region with Operation Barkhane amid persistent extremist threats.
According to the Elysee palace, Macron will use his first visit to the north-central African country to reaffirm his commitment to counterterror efforts in the vast region south of the Sahara.
Macron also will hold talks with President Idriss Deby on Sunday and meet with a delegation of Chadian women.
On Saturday, the French president will share a Christmas meal with French soldiers at the Barkhane headquarters in the capital, N’Djamena.
The operation in West and Central Africa involves 4,500 personnel and is France’s largest overseas military mission.
Macron is also expected to renew France’s support for the G5 Sahel regional force that works alongside Barkhane and is made up of soldiers from Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso.
The Elysee said that beyond the question of stability in the Sahel, discussions with Deby also will focus on the decade-long Boko Haram extremist insurgency based in neighboring Nigeria, which has spilled into Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
The situation in Libya and Central African Republic also will be discussed, according to the Elysee.
French officials have expressed concern over Russia’s growing military and other involvement in Central African Republic over the past year.