US says still talking to Niger about army pulloutMon, 29 Apr 2024 14:53:50 GMT

The United States is still talking with Niger about the withdrawal of 1,000 American military personnel, and decisions will be announced in the coming weeks, the US Africom commander said on Monday.There were “still discussions … between the US and Niger, the governing body there in Niger,” General Michael Langley told a press conference.”Decisions will be made public in the coming weeks,” the Africa Command chief said in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan. Niger’s military junta, which seized power last July, announced in March it was ending a military cooperation agreement with Washington, which this month agreed to remove the troops and sent a delegation to Niamey to work out an orderly departure.The talks began in Niger a week ago, according to the Pentagon.Niger, a linchpin in the US and French strategy to combat jihadists in West Africa, houses a $100 million American drone base.Niamey faces violence by Boko Haram jihadists and their rivals Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) from the southeastern region of Diffa near Nigeria.”We still realise that a threat is still out there … on the northern borders,” Langley said after meeting Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara. The general also spoke of “the future of the partnership between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States, in this case Africom” and how to deepen security and civil society aspects of it.Following the overthrow of elected president Mohamed Bazoum, the Niger junta kicked out soldiers from former colonial power France before the end of 2023.Russian military instructors arrived in Niger this month with an air defence system and other equipment, state media said, after talks between military ruler General Abdourahamane Tiani and Russian President Vladimir Putin.