French president Hollande visits Niger on tour

The Associated PressJuly 18, 2014 

— France's president is paying a visit to the former colony of Niger, a landlocked desert nation in West Africa that has played a key role in French military efforts in the region.

President Francois Hollande arrived Friday in the capital of Niamey, a day after holding economic talks with officials in Ivory Coast.

Next he heads to Chad, another former colony that will be headquarters for a newly reorganized French military presence in Africa.

The redeployment of 3,000 French troops in five of its former colonies across northwest Africa is expected to be officially announced Saturday.

The new operation — code-named "Barkhane" after a crescent-shaped dune in Sahara desert — will involve Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

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