Macron in Chad to meet French troops, boost G5 Sahel
French President Emmanuel Macron has had pre-Christmas dinner with French soldiers deployed in the Sahel in the Chadian capital N'Djamena, ahead of talks with his counterpart Idriss Deby, to confirm his commitment to the fight against extremism in the region.
Macron was greeted by Deby at Kossei air base upon arrival Saturday before dining with French troops stationed in the region as part of the anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane.
Macron brought along the Elysées Palace chef, Guillaume Gomez, and enough champagne, foie gras and chocolate for 1,300 troops.
The President also addressed commanders of the British, Estonian, German and Spanish units that are taking part in the operation.
Macron is using his first visit to Chad to reaffirm his commitment to the fight against extremism in the region. The French government's objective is to strengthen its partnership with the new anti-jihadist force of the G5 Sahel supported by Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad.
The Barkhane force, which boasts some 4,500 French troops, was launched in 2014 to fight jihadists in the region. A Barkhane commander said the operation's troops carry out 600 operations each month.
French troops patrol huge region
The Sahel region with its huge expanse of remote desert is home to several jihadist groups.
Islamist extremists have been largely chased out of northern Mali by the French military intervention, however they have regained territory in central Mali.