The European Union decided on Monday to halt its military training mission in Mali but will maintain a presence in the Sahel, the bloc’s top diplomat said on Monday as German Foreign Minister Annalena Baierbock headed to Mali for talks with Mali.
“We are stopping training missions for the (Malian) armed forces and the national guard,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a media conference, but added: “The Sahel remains a priority.” We are not leaving this far, Sahel. We want to be even more committed to that area.”
He spoke after chairing a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers to discuss the issue.
Borrell said it was decided that developments in Mali “forced us to see that there were not enough guarantees on non-intervention by the Wagner Group,” a Russian private military organization that France and other countries say. That is operating as an armed force in Mali. ,
Russia says it has only supplied what it officially describes as military trainers to Mali.
Borrell stated that “the infamous Wagner group … is responsible for some very serious incidents that have killed tens of thousands of people in Mali in recent days”.
France last week expressed concern over reports that Malian soldiers and Wagner mercenaries killed more than 200 civilians in an operation in the Malian village of Moura last month.
Paris in February announced the withdrawal of its troops from Mali, a former colony that seized power last year, after a breakdown in ties with the country’s ruling junta, ending a nearly 10-year deployment.
France’s deployment to fight Islamic extremists was conducted separately from European Union missions.
barbock to meet junta chief
German Foreign Minister Berbock will hold talks with the junta in Mali this week amid uncertainty over the future of German troops, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.
She will then travel to Niger for talks with President Mohamed Bajoum and Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yakubu and return to Germany on Saturday.
The spokesman said Bierbock aims to “get an accurate picture of the political and security situation on the ground”, as Germany weighs its ongoing involvement in military missions in Mali.
“The Bamako government has lost the trust of the international community in recent months, particularly by halting democratic transition and intensifying military cooperation with Moscow,” Bairbock said in a statement ahead of his departure.
Germany has about 1,100 troops stationed in Mali as part of a UN peacekeeping mission known as the Minusma.
The European state has contributed approximately 300 troops to the EU military training mission in Mali.
Massacre prompts EU military training suspension
Human Rights Watch says Malian soldiers and foreign fighters 300 civilians killed Between 27 and 31 March in Maura.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht visited German troops stationed in Mali over the weekend and spoke of “atrocities” in Moura.
Borrell called the Maura operation “genocide” and said: “We cannot cooperate with reprehensible incidents … We cannot train people who are responsible for this type of behavior. Hence military training for soldiers, We’re going to stop.”
He said EU ministers discussed the hope that ECOWAS, a regional bloc in West Africa, would negotiate an “acceptable election” with Mali’s junta for a return to civilian rule.
(France 24 with AFP and Reuters)
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