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EU top diplomat: We’re staying in Mali

EU top diplomat: We’re staying in Mali

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The EU doesn’t intend to leave Mali, the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said Wednesday morning ahead of a meeting where France is expected to announce that it intends to withdraw its counterterrorism forces from the West African country.

“Certainly they won’t leave Mali,” Borrell said on France Inter about the Takuba Task Force, a European multinational band of special operations forces. He added: “We’re not going to leave Mali but we can’t stay in a country if the authorities don’t want it.”

Amid the deteriorating relationship between the military government in Mali and its partners on the ground to fight terrorist groups, France is cautiously laying the groundwork for a withdrawal.

“It seems very difficult to maintain a commitment in the fight against terrorism” in Mali, an Elysée official said Tuesday, following multiple statements from ministers hinting at the same idea.

The EU’s missions are distinct from the French-led counterterrorism operations.

Borrell is in Paris Wednesday evening to have dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron as well as leaders and representatives from European and African countries. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel will also attend. The dinner precedes a two-day EU-African Union summit in Brussels.

“Jihadism is not a pathology of the human being. Neither is it a plant that grows in nature. It’s a response to socio-economical circumstances, it’s a complex phenomenon,” Borrell said.

He added: “We need to fight against jihadism, we need to fight against social injustice too, against inequalities, against bad governance. And that is up to Africans themselves to do it, it’s not us Europeans who are going to take on this role.” 

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