US and Niger begin talks over troop withdrawal

France withdrew its troops from the African country in October after the junta demanded they leave

Protesters in Agadez demand the withdrawal of US troops from Niger. EPA
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The US has started talks with Niger on withdrawing the more than 1,000 American troops stationed in the junta-ruled country, which has been a key base for regional counter-terrorism operations, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday.

Niger's government – a junta that ousted the country's president last year – last month said it was ending a military co-operation agreement with Washington.

“We can confirm that discussions have begun between the United States and Niger for the orderly withdrawal of US forces from the country,” Pentagon spokesman Maj Gen Pat Ryder told reporters.

“In the near future, the Department of Defence will provide a small delegation from the Pentagon and US Africa Command and to participate in those discussions.”

Over the past decade, the US has performed counter-terrorism and global security operations against ISIS and Al Qaeda in the West African region through two bases in Niger.

At one of the bases, near Agadez, the US built a $110 million drone base, but activities there have been halted or limited since members of the Nigerien military overthrew the country's democratically elected government last July, ousting President Mohamed Bazoum.

Nigerien and Russian news organisations reported that Russian military personnel arrived in the country's capital Niamey this month.

France withdrew its troops from Niger in October after the junta demanded they leave.

Updated: April 23, 2024, 7:42 PM