France's foreign minister spoke in Mali and Niger on Tuesday about increased security measures for French citizens in the Sahel region. His visit comes days after a French hostage was killed by al-Qaida's North African branch.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner toured three countries in West Africa after a French citizen was killed during the weekend by al-Qaida's North African branch, known al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
The group's leader broadcast an audio message on Sunday saying the militants had killed 78-year-old aid worker Michel Germaneau.
While in Niger's capital Niamey on Tuesday, Kouchner said the French military has been cooperating for several months with Mauritania's army to combat al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
He added that French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent him to West Africa immediately after Germaneau's death so that the French minister could speak to the leaders of Mauritania, Mali and Niger.
Kouchner said that France is friends with the Sahel countries and is determined to help if needed, as if it were France's own fight. Although, he said, it is the fight of the Sahel countries. The French foreign minister quickly added the action was not about revenge.
Kouchner also said he did not necessarily urge French nationals to leave the Sahel region, though he did recommend increased security measures.