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Macron calls for countries' support in fighting extremism

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, takes to Army Chief of Staff, General Pierre de Villiersflies prior to the take off of a military helicopter as they visit the troops of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, takes to Army Chief of Staff, General Pierre de Villiersflies prior to the take off of a military helicopter as they visit the troops of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, poses with soldiers as he visits the troops of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, poses with soldiers as he visits the troops of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita hold a press conference as they meet French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita hold a press conference as they meet French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, center right, visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, center right, visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, flies over Gao as he visits the troops of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, flies over Gao as he visits the troops of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron lines up for food as he shares a lunch break with soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron lines up for food as he shares a lunch break with soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, talks to Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as they meet French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, talks to Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as they meet French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, arrives to meet French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, arrives to meet French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, right, review troops as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, right, review troops as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, review troops as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, review troops as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, greets authorities as he visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, greets authorities as he visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, right, greets French Defense minister Sylvie Goulard as French President Emmanuel Macron looks on as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, right, greets French Defense minister Sylvie Goulard as French President Emmanuel Macron looks on as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talks with a French soldier as he visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talks with a French soldier as he visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French Defense minister Sylvie Goulard, reviews troops as she visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French Defense minister Sylvie Goulard, reviews troops as she visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, review troops as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, review troops as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, review troops as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, review troops as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French Defense minister Sylvie Goulard, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron, second left, meet Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, right, as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French Defense minister Sylvie Goulard, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron, second left, meet Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, right, as they visit soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, is greeted by Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as he arrives to meet French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, is greeted by Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as he arrives to meet French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, get ready prior to the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French soldiers of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, get ready prior to the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, in Gao, Northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron,right , and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe leave after a family photo following the first cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron,right , and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe leave after a family photo following the first cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP)
FILE-- In this photo taken Sunday Feb. 10, 2013, French soldiers secure the area where a suicide bomber exploded at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali. France's new president Emmanuel Macron has chosen for his first official visit outside Europe the West African nation of Mali, a country where multiple extremist groups pose a growing danger to the region.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)
FILE-- In this photo taken Sunday Feb. 10, 2013, French soldiers secure the area where a suicide bomber exploded at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali. France's new president Emmanuel Macron has chosen for his first official visit outside Europe the West African nation of Mali, a country where multiple extremist groups pose a growing danger to the region.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)
French Chieff of Staff Gen. Pierre de Villiers arrives at the Elysee Palace, Thursday, May 18, 2017 in Paris as French President Emmanuel Macron chairs his first security council. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French Chieff of Staff Gen. Pierre de Villiers arrives at the Elysee Palace, Thursday, May 18, 2017 in Paris as French President Emmanuel Macron chairs his first security council. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, May 19, 2017 01:24 pm

GAO, Mali On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday highlighted his determination to crush extremism but said "other countries can do more" to help protect Europe from the threat. He was visiting France's largest overseas military operation, which is combating jihadist groups in West Africa.

The region's terror threat is "clearly a risk for Europe," he said, vowing that French troops would remain in Mali until the extremists are eliminated.

At a joint news conference with Malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Macron asked Germany to provide more support to French-led efforts to eradicate the extremist groups. He said German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him she backs the idea during a meeting in Berlin earlier this week.

"France de facto ensures Europe's security, in Mali and in other theaters of operations. But other countries can do more, in terms of backup, in terms of development (and) partnerships for equipment," Macron said.

"I want to strengthen those European partnerships, in particular with Germany," he added.

The German government earlier this year approved an expansion of the country's military deployment in Mali, with Berlin sending more helicopters to support the U.N. peacekeeping mission there and raising the maximum number of German soldiers from 650 to 1,000.

The French leader also praised a "crucial" and "exemplary" intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States for military operations in Africa's Sahel region. Without it, "we would not be able to operate in the area," he said.

Macron said he has "no doubt" the cooperation will continue, adding that he will discuss defense and security issues with President Donald Trump during a working lunch at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Macron repeatedly pledged ahead of the May 7 election that fighting terror would be his priority, after multiple attacks in France since 2015 that killed more than 230 people.

Most of the West African extremist groups France is combating trace their origins to al-Qaida's North Africa branch.

Mali's president expressed his gratitude toward France for its military intervention that began in 2013 after extremist groups overran the country's vast northern region. The groups were quickly pushed from strongholds but remain a deadly threat.

"The road is long ... but we are going forward and we will succeed," Keita said.

France's Operation Barkhane has about 4,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. The eastern city Macron visited, Gao, is home of the permanent French military base in Mali, with 1,600 troops.

Gao also is where a suicide attack on a Malian army camp killed more than 75 people in January. That attack, claimed by the al-Qaida-linked al-Mourabitoun extremist group, happened just days after former French president Francois Hollande visited the city.

The victims were soldiers and former fighters trying to stabilize the region after a 2015 agreement with the government. The attack was a major blow to peace efforts in northern Mali, where rival groups have been vying for control or outright independence.

"I don't think Macron's arrival will change anything to our daily life," Ousmane Maiga, a resident of Gao, told The Associated Press. "Macron comes to see the French soldiers but not us."

Another resident, Mohamed Gaiga, said he wants Macron "to put an end to the massacre of Malians. France has the military and political power to bring back peace in Mali, but we observe that even groups that signed the peace agreement are still fighting each other."

___

Associated Press writers Sylvie Corbet and John Leicester in Paris and Baba Ahmed in Bamako, Mali contributed.

                       

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