France and its partners to begin the military withdrawal from Mali – press release

PARIS, Feb 17 (Reuters) – France and its European partners involved in the fight against Islamist militants in Mali have decided to begin the coordinated withdrawal of their military resources in the country, a joint statement said on Friday.

They agreed to make plans on how to stay in the region, including Niger and Gulf of Guinea countries by June 2022, the statement said.

Relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated since the military junta reneged on an agreement to hold elections in February and offered to stay in power until 2025. It has also deployed Russian private military contractors, which some European countries have called it incompatible with their mission.

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“Due to the multiple obstructions of the Malian transitional authorities, Canada and the European States operating alongside Operation Barkhane and within Task Force Takuba believe that the political, operational and legal conditions are no longer met to effectively pursue their current military engagement in the fight against terrorism in Mali,” the statement said.

The statement was issued by countries operating with France’s Barkhane counter-terrorism force and the Takuba mission, which includes some 14 European nations.

They “then decided to begin the coordinated withdrawal of their respective military resources dedicated to these operations from Malian territory”.

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Reporting by John Irish; edited by Richard Lough

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