France's President Emmanuel Macron enters in his car after a military ceremony, at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, Friday, June 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
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President Emmanuel Macron heads to Mali Sunday to throw France's weight behind a new West African military force he hopes will lay the basis for an exit strategy for its own troops; but its prospects for success look slim. Mali is hosting a heads of state summit with Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania – known as the G-5 Sahel – who could ultimately deploy thousands of troops into the vast, arid Sahel region that remains a breeding ground for militants and traffickers that Paris considers a threat to Europe.Four years after intervening in its former colony to ward off a militant offensive, there is no sign of France withdrawing its 4,000-strong regional Barkhane contingent as they, alongside 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers, struggle to stabilize Mali and implement peace accords.The force endorsed by the U.N. aims to initially establish specially trained units by the end of the year that would work with French forces where militant groups are known to operate.The G-5 Sahel nations are already heavily committed, leading to speculation that Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger may simply rehat some or all of their 4,100 soldiers now serving in the U.N. Minusma force in Mali, potentially undermining a mission that is already struggling.
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