Paris (AFP)

Emmanuel Macron announced that decisions would be taken "in the coming weeks" to improve the fight against jihadist in the Sahel, receiving Tuesday at the Elysee presidents of Chad, Niger and Mali.

"We have advanced on the security situation" and on "the decisions" that will be announced "in the coming weeks to reconcentrate the joint force" G5-Sahel "on the central zone" (military term designating the zone on the borders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger), said the French president after lunch with his counterparts Idriss Déby Itno (Chad), Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger) and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Mali).

Mr. Macron added that he would also be called shortly to "reiterate the role of Barkhane", the French force in the Sahel, and to "confirm and strengthen commitment" in the region.

Relaunched in 2017, the G5-Sahel has 5,000 soldiers from Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, tasked with fighting the jihadists. Pushed by France, this force could eventually replace the French army whose 4,500 soldiers of Operation Barkhane have been fighting in the region since 2014.

Emmanuel Macron said he would "call to order" partner countries "who had committed to the Alliance for the Sahel and sometimes delay in delivering their aid." Military deliveries are expected "at the end of the year and early next year," he said.

During lunch, the four presidents also spoke about the problematic situation in Kidal, a city in north-eastern Mali that escapes the authority of the state.

Taken in 2012 by jihadist rebels, it is today, despite the presence of French bases and UN forces, under the control of ex-Tuareg separatist rebels who rose up against the central government in 2012 before signing an agreement of peace in Algiers in 2015.

"I wish to make it very clear that Kidal is Mali and the Malian state, in Kidal it is the Malian flag, the Malian administration and I have sometimes heard contrary messages," said Emmanuel Macron.

He described as "very good" the decision of the Malian president "to send the Prime Minister" soon in this city.

© 2019 AFP