A Malian soldier stands guard at the international conference center of Bamako ahead of France-Africa summit in Bamako, Mali, January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
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Talks gathering some 30 African states and France begin in Mali's capital Bamako Friday, with leaders expected to focus on Africa's battle against extremists nand bid to improve its democratic record.In a bid to help crush the growing extremist threat, France has trained more than 20,000 African soldiers every year since a Paris summit in 2013, a French diplomatic source said.France's training drive aims to minimize the need for direct military interventions in African conflicts, such as those launched in Mali and Central African Republic in 2013 .Even as France moves to scale down its direct involvement in African conflicts, the situation in key nations such as Mali remains far from stable.Since 2014, France has deployed some 4,000 soldiers in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert, where Mali is located, as part of the Barkhane force.
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