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US General, Senior Officials Hold Talks With Niger Junta

General Michael Langley, the commander of US Africa Command, was part of the delegation that is visiting Niger through Wednesday, the State Department said.


Niger
Niger Republic Map

 

A US general and top officials visited Niger on Tuesday to see the ruling junta, renewing contact after the coup leaders ousted the elected leader, booted out French forces and moved closer to Russia.

General Michael Langley, the commander of US Africa Command, was part of the delegation that is visiting Niger through Wednesday, the State Department said.

In a brief statement, the State Department said the US delegation will hold talks with the junta on “Niger’s return to a democratic path and the future of our security and development partnership.”

The United States still stations some 1,000 troops in Niger at a desert drone base built at a cost of $100 million, although movements have been limited since the coup and Washington has curbed assistance to the government.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a rare visit to Niger a year ago in hopes of shoring up Mohamed Bazoum, the elected president and stalwart ally in Western security efforts against jihadists.

Just four months later, the military deposed Bazoum and put him under house arrest. The junta took a hard line against former colonial power France, forcing the withdrawal of French troops in place for nearly a decade.

Niger’s military, which has worked closely with the United States, has not demanded a similar pullout of US forces.

But the junta has sought cooperation with Russia, while stopping short of the full-fledged embrace of Moscow by military-run neighbors Mali and Burkina Faso.

Also joining the delegation in Niger are Molly Phee, the top State Department official for Africa, and Celeste Wallander, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

AFP