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Macron urges 'greater involvement' by NATO allies in Sahel


In this file photo taken on March 12, 2016 A French soldier of the operation Barkhane, a military mission in Sahel, patrols as a Eurocopter Tiger (Eurocopter EC665 Tigre) helicopter operates a tactical flight in Mali.


Paris: President Emmanuel Macron called Thursday for France's allies to get more involved in the French-led fight against militant groups in the Sahel region of West Africa.

At a press conference in Paris with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, Macron said "greater involvement" by NATO allies would be "wholly beneficial" and said the subject should be on the table at the NATO summit near London next week.

"I want a discussion between allies on a concrete commitment to the fight against terrorism in the Sahel and the Middle East," he said.

Macron also said France would begin a review of its Barkhane intervention in the Sahel following the death of 13 soldiers in Mali this week, with "all options on the table".

"Yesterday I held a first meeting, and I have asked the government and our armies to undertake a deep review in the coming weeks to examine the modalities of our intervention," he said.

"In this context, and in light of the decisions that France will take, a bigger engagement by its allies is obviously something that would be quite positive," he said.

Although Britain has provided helicopters and security personnel to help France's 4,500-member Barkhane force in Western Africa, and the US provides intelligence support, France has so far failed to persuade other allies to make a significant contribution.

"In the Sahel, France is involved and acting on behalf of everyone," Macron said.

"If some people want to see an example of what they term 'cost-sharing,' they can come Monday to the ceremony France is organising" for the 13 soldiers killed in a midair helicopter collision while fighting insurgents in Mali, he said.

"There they will see the cost."

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