French President in Mali to consolidate backing for regional anti-jihadist force

In mid-June, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution welcoming the deployment of the new force with troops contributed by the G5 Sahel countries.

Islamist militant groups, some with links to al-Qaeda, seized control of Mali's desert north in 2012.

"I want France to accompany the creation of this force in a spirit of partnership", Macron said in opening comments.

Emmanuel Macron has been president of France for just two months - and already has made his second visit to Mali, where French troops and United Nations peacekeepers are fighting armed groups.

Operations across Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, all hit with frequent jihadist attacks, will be coordinated with French troops, a source in the French presidency told AFP earlier this week, while help would be given to set up command centres.

Macron is expected to announce that France fully supports the establishment of the regional force.

Leaders of the G5 Sahel bloc - Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad - were expected to launch a new multi-national force at the meeting.

While weighing up the challenges of the G5 Sahel operation, analysts frequently compare it with the Multinational Joint Task Force battling Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region, composed of troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

"There is urgency because those we're facing aren't going to wait", said Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

A Malian police officer stationed on an armoured personnel vehicle outside Campement Kangaba, Bamako. Chad's military is considered the strongest among the Sahel forces.

Paris considers the Sahel a breeding ground for militants and traffickers who pose a threat to Europe.

"There are troops here and they've been trying to solve the problem of insecurity in the region, but they haven't been successful because the funding is at the heart of this situation", he said.

And while Keita said each of the G5 Sahel members had promised to contribute €10 million for the force, he said it required a total budget of €423 million.

The European Union has pledged around €50 million ($74 million) for the operations, and Macron said France would contribute around €8 million by the end of the year.

The three-nation border of Liptako-Gourma will become a "laboratory" for Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger where French forces will aim to work in tandem with these nations, before bringing Chad and Mauritania into the mix, Depagne predicted.

The force is also supposed to tackle smuggling and people-trafficking.

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