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France to Increase Military Presence in Africa

  • VOA News

A woman walks past French peacekeeping troops in a street of the capital Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 17, 2014.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says France will expand its military presence in Africa's troubled Sahel region.

During a visit to Washington Friday, Le Drian told VOA's French to Africa service the new plan includes about 3,000 French soldiers to be permanently deployed in the region. He said there will be three main bases, to be located in Mali, Niger and Chad, with a logistics supply platform in Ivory Coast.

Le Drian told a press conference Friday in Washington with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that the new deployment will allow France to better react to threats in the Sahel.

"France has decided to reorganize its posture in Africa in order to have, all over the zone, a larger reactivity, a larger specialization, so that with the support of the neighboring states, we can have prevention actions or intervention in a regional approach so that altogether we can make sure that the security of the entire zone is lasting," he said.

Asked if France could increase its presence in the Central African Republic, Le Drian said Paris had no plan to send more troops there. France already has about 1,600 troops there to try to stop deadly sectarian violence in the country.