Niger’s president says Germany can build a military logistics base in this West African country to strengthen its support of the fight against extremism here and in Mali.
President Mahamadou Issoufou spoke Monday alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the second leg of her three-nation African visit.
Niger’s president welcomed Germany’s cooperation in economic and social development, especially in parts of the country that are transit points for migrants.
“New challenges give us the means to expand our bilateral cooperation,” Issoufou said, pointing out the country’s issues with security and migration as it also shares borders with Libya and Chad. “Naturally, we would give facilities to Germany for a logistics center to help supply its soldiers in Mali fighting against terrorism.”
Germany has about 650 troops supporting the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali.
Merkel says there is a strong link between illegal migration and the trafficking of arms into conflict zones. She says Germany wants to help combat this by supporting Niger’s army with equipment and expertise.
“There is a strong link between illegal migration and the trafficking of illicit arms in conflict zones, and we will help Niger to fight this phenomenon by providing Niger’s army with equipment, notably vehicles, other materials and expertise,” Merkel said.
Niger is a major transit point for African migrants making their way north toward Europe.
On Thursday, Merkel said in a speech to Germany’s main industry lobby group that some 90 percent of the migrants who reach the Libyan coast come through Niger. Libya has been a launching point for thousands of migrants setting off toward Europe on often deadly voyages across the Mediterranean.
Merkel next visits Ethiopia today, Tuesday.