Niger: Bazoum receives Scholz in Niamey, hails Germany's decision to prolong "Operation Gazelle"

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Niger President Mohamed Bazoum on Monday hailed his country's military cooperation with Germany as a blueprint for other partnerships, after meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Niamey.

"I would like to congratulate you on the work we have done together, which will now be a model which we can point to for all our other partners," Bazoum said.

The Niger leader also welcomed the Germany's decision to prolong "Operation Gazelle" under which it trains Niger's special forces.

Scholz said the German parliament "had "given the green light to an extension".

"We have to see what the future prospects are and what the challenges are," in future, he said while adding that "the success achieved so far is already a good motivation to continue".

Scholz visited German soldiers attached to "Operation Gazelle" in the western Tahoua region on Monday morning and said he could see "how successful it really is".

He added that at "the security situation in the Sahel region "is very difficult", and that "really good cooperation is needed".

Niger is the poorest country in the world, according to the benchmark of the UN's Human Development Index.

The landlocked Sahel state is struggling with a reputation for corruption and volatility.

Neighbouring Mali has since 2012 been wracked by a jihadist insurgency by groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.

That violence has spread to both Niger and Burkina Faso.

Scholz confirmed on Monday that Germany would continue to take part in the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

"It is clear that this (security) situation will not improve with the presence of Russian mercenaries in Mali", said Scholz.

Earlier this month the German government decided to raise its MINUSMA contingent to a maximum of 1,400 troops from 1,100 previously to help plug gaps left by a French pull-out.

France, Mali's former colonial power, is pulling its forces out of Mali, which are separate from MINUSMA, after relations with the country's ruling junta broke down.

Disgruntled officers seized power in August 2020, toppling Mali's elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Since then the ruling junta has been accused by France and others, of bringing in paramilitaries from the controversial Wagner group, reputed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After visits to Senegal and Niger, German leader Scholz was due to travel to South Africa late Monday.

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