Macron calls Biden for greater US military participation

Brest, France (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday he hoped US President-elect Joe Biden would demonstrate greater military commitment to fighting Islamic extremists in many battlefields, especially in the Middle East.

“I am sure that in the coming weeks, the new administration (Biden) will have to make important decisions that represent greater commitment and awareness … in fighting terrorism,” in Syria and Iraq, said Macron, who delivered his New Year speech to the French army in Brest, western France.

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Macron stressed that France is continuing its efforts to fight ISIS in the region. About 900 French soldiers are currently participating in the US-led international coalition. He said the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle would re-join the operation in the coming months.

He also called on the United States to participate more in multilateral defense cooperation. Biden, who is due to be inaugurated on Wednesday, has pledged to restore US ties with the allies and NATO.

Under the Trump administration, the number of US forces in Afghanistan has been reduced to around 2,500 and US forces in Iraq have been reduced in recent months, to roughly the same level.

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In his speech, Macron also indicated that he is considering a partial withdrawal of forces in the Sahel region, a “modification” he made as a result of the successes achieved by the French forces last year and the greater participation expected from other European countries.

Macron said he would make statements at a summit next month in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. The deployment of about 5,100 troops to five countries in West Africa represents France’s largest military operation abroad.

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