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Niger breaks off military cooperation with US: govt

By AFP

March 17, 2024 09:15 AM


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Niger's government announced on Saturday that it was breaking off "with immediate effect" its military cooperation agreement with the United States.

The declaration came just a day after a senior US delegation left Niger, following a three-day visit to renew contact with the military junta that ousted the president and moved closer to Russia.

The statement said the government had decided to "denounce with immediate effect" the agreement relating to US military and civilian employees of the US Department of Defense inside Niger.

It was read out Saturday evening on national television.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington was aware of the statement, and that it came after "frank discussions ... about our concerns" with the junta's "trajectory."

Miller said on X that the US was still in touch with the junta and would provide updates "as warranted."

The Pentagon provided AFP with an identical statement.

The United States still stations some 1,000 troops in Niger at a desert drone base built at a cost of $100 million.

Movements there have been limited since the July 2023 coup and Washington has curbed assistance to the government.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a rare visit to Niger a year ago in hopes of shoring up president Mohamed Bazoum, a stalwart ally in Western security efforts against jihadists.

Just four months later, the military deposed Bazoum and put him under house arrest.

The junta took a hard line against former colonial power France, forcing the withdrawal of French troops in place for nearly a decade.

Niger's military had in the past worked closely with the United States.

But the junta has sought cooperation with Russia, while stopping short of the full-fledged embrace of Moscow by military-run neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso.


AFP


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