Germany shifts focus of military mission to West Africa

BERLIN (AP) — The German government has backed changes to two of the country’s military deployments in West Africa, moving hundreds of soldiers from Mali to neighboring Niger and shifting its focus in Mali from a European mission to a United Nations mission.

Government spokeswoman Christian Hoffman said on Wednesday that “due to the changing situation”, the training and support previously provided to the Malian army will be provided to the Nigerien army in the future in the fight against Islamic extremists in the region.

France, which has a substantial military presence in Mali, announced in February, withdraw its troops from the EU mission By the summer, amid tensions with the country’s ruling military junta.

Hoffmann said Germany’s decision was also motivated by concerns that the EU-trained Malian army might cooperate with Russian mercenaries operating in the country.

At the same time, Germany will increase its participation in the UN peacekeeping operation in Mali, providing up to 1,400 troops.

The Cabinet decision still needs to be approved by Parliament.

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