French President Emmanuel Macron will pay a short visit to Niger’s capital Niamey on December 22 to meet with his Nigerian counterpart Mahamadou Issoufou following the jihadist attack on Nigerian troops in Inates, the French presidency announced.
Macron is scheduled to spend a few hours there for a tribute to the 71 Nigerien soldiers killed in the December 10 attack and to speak with his Nigerian counterpart.
He will make the trip just after his official visit to Côte d’Ivoire on December 20 and 21.
His meeting with President Issoufou will allow them to prepare for the meeting scheduled for Pau (southwest of France) on January 13 with the presidents of the five countries of the Sahel, said the Elysee.
This summit was requested by the French president who wants his Sahelian counterparts to give clearer support to the French military presence in the Sahel, which has been challenged by some of their public opinions.
71 Nigerien soldiers killed
The five presidents of the Sahel (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania) also met in Niamey on Sunday, said the Elysee, to prepare for this meeting initially scheduled for December 16 but postponed because of the attack of Inates, near the Malian border.
On December 10, 71 Nigerien soldiers died in this bloody attack on Inates, the deadliest in the country’s history. She was claimed by jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group.
The invitation of Emmanuel Macron to the meeting in Pau, announced at the end of the NATO summit on December 4, had been badly felt by many in the Sahel States, who had perceived it rather as a “convocation « .
« The Pau meeting is very important and the Sahel states are also asking for this clarification exercise, » said the Elysee.
The visit to Niamey is not intended to give pledges after a badly received invitation but to “collectively take control in the face of a bad situation”, affirm the advisers of the French president.