French President Macron to travel to Africa on Friday

French President Emmanuel Macron

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French counter-terrorism force in Mali

PARIS (Reuters) – President Emmanuel Macron will visit French troops in Africa on Friday, a source close to the new leader said on Tuesday.

Aides have said he is expected to go to Mali where about 1,000 soldiers are based as part of Paris’ West African counter-terrorism force.

The source added that the new French government’s first cabinet meeting would take place on Thursday.

Reports indicate that the President has spoken by telephone to two troops who were wounded whiles on duty. It is not yet known whether Macron will be meeting any officials of the Malian government on his trip.

The last African trip of his predecessor, Francois Hollande was to Mali in January this year during a security summit in the capital, Bamako.

Aside, Mali, the 3,000-strong force is fighting insurgents in the entire Sahel region comprising Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania.

For four years jihadist groups have targeted and controlled some areas of northern Mali. 19 French soldiers have been reported to have been killed since the operation started in 2013.

Mali has been labeled as the deadliest war front for UN peacekeepers after over 20 of them were killed last year.

-Michael Onas