Final date for US troop pullout from Niger set for September

The US troop withdrawal from Niger, at the demand of the West African nation's military rulers, has begun and will be over by 15 September "at the latest", a joint statement said Sunday.

The two sides announced they had reached a disengagement agreement and US forces deployed as part of an anti-jihadist mission have started to leave after Niamey claimed their presence was illegal.

The decision comes after several days of talks between a delegation from the US Department of Defense and Nigerien counterparts in Niamey this week.

Niger's military rulers seized power in a July 2023 coup and scrapped a military cooperation deal with Washington in March.

The United States has around 650 soldiers in Niger with a major drone base near Agadez in the north of the country.

Niger has already overseen the withdrawal of troops from France, the former colonial power and traditional security ally, and has strengthened ties with Russia which has provided instructors and equipment.

The joint statement added that the US troop withdrawal would in no way affect ties relating to development in Niger, one of the world's poorest countries.

On 25 April, the US said that Niger ambassador Kathleen FitzGibbon and Major General Kenneth Ekman, of the US Africa Command, would meet with local authorities "on an orderly and responsible withdrawal of US forces from Niger".

(with newswires)

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