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Mali conflict: Macron announces troops to leave after nine years

France and its allies in a European force will withdraw their troops from Mali after almost a decade, President Emmanuel Macron has announced.

The troops have been involved in the fight against Islamist militants in the country.

Mr Macron said the decision to leave followed a breakdown in diplomatic relations, amid growing hostility from Mali's governing military junta.

The forces will be re-deployed across Africa's Sahel region.

"We cannot remain militarily engaged alongside de-facto authorities whose strategy and hidden aims we do not share", Mr Macron told a news conference in Paris on Thursday.

He refuted claims that the withdrawal was an acceptance of failure and insisted that France remains committed to combating Islamist insurgencies in the region. He added that Niger had agreed to host some of the withdrawing forces.

"France has played a unifying role in this international mobilisation in favour of the Sahel", he said. "We will continue to ensure this unifying role."

The move followed a meeting of European and African leaders at the Elysee palace on Wednesday night.

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