US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Washington had not made any changes to its military presence in Niger, while the ruling Nigerien military council announced the closure of airspace to French aircraft.

During a joint press conference with his Kenyan counterpart in Nairobi, Austin reiterated his country's position calling for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Niger.

Austin added that Washington "continues to give diplomacy a chance, as well as evaluate any future steps that prioritize our diplomatic and security objectives."

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said his country did not need to take urgent steps in this regard and that it was "monitoring the situation and keeping security in mind".

At the same time, Pistorius said the air transport base in the capital Niamey was important for the withdrawal of his troops from neighbouring Mali.

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that the French ambassador in Niamey, Sullivan Ait, will return to France.

He also said in a television interview that French troops would leave Niger by the end of the year, stressing the cessation of military cooperation with what he called the de facto authorities in Niger.

France has kept about 1500,1100 troops in Niger as part of its anti-militant deployment in the Sahel region. The United States has about <>,<> military personnel in the country.

"Historic moment"

Commenting on the move, the authorities in Niamey welcomed, in a statement, France's announcement of its intention to withdraw its troops from the country.

The junta described the move as a "historic moment", adding: "This Sunday we celebrate a new step towards Niger's sovereignty," calling on its citizens to continue what it described as a struggle to achieve future ambitions.

The military council said the people's struggle had borne fruit and the country was celebrating a new step towards sovereignty, noting that the French ambassador and French troops would leave Niger.

Supporters of the junta gathered in a nightly demonstration in front of the French military base in the capital Niamey, celebrating what the junta described as the fruit of the people's struggle and its steps towards sovereignty.

Several youth organizations and Islamic associations have been organizing demonstrations in front of the French base in Niamey to denounce France's positions and oblige it to implement the military council's decision to withdraw its ambassador from Niger and its troops to leave the country.

Closure of airspace

Meanwhile, Niger's ruling military junta announced the closure of airspace to French aircraft.

This came in a statement by the Agency for the Safety of Air Navigation in Africa and Madagascar "ASECNA", quoted by French media on Sunday, without any official French comment on this statement.

A copy of the agency's letter to air carriers dated Saturday (September 23) indicated that Niger's airspace is available for all national and international commercial flights except for French or chartered aircraft from France, including the Air France fleet, according to the French channel "BFMTV".