July 2, 2017 / 1:47 PM / 2 months ago

France's Macron hopes Sahel force will be operational within weeks

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during G5 Sahel Summit at the Koulouba Presidential Palace in Bamako, Mali, July 2, 2017.Luc Gnago

BAMAKO (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday he hoped a West African regional force aimed at combating Islamist militants and criminals in the arid Sahel region would be operational within weeks.

He spoke after a summit of presidents from Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger - the G5 Sahel bloc - which is setting up the multi-national force which will function along side French and U.N. missions in the region.

Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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