US set to withdraw troops from key drone base in Niger, as ruling military junta insists


NIGER – The United States has agreed to withdraw its more than 1,000 troops from Niger, officials said, upending its posture in West Africa where the country was home to a major drone base.

France 24 reported that state television earlier announced that the US officials would visit this week.

The State Department made no immediate public announcement and officials said no timeline was yet set to withdraw the troops.

Niger had been a long linchpin in the US and French strategy to combat jihadists in West Africa.

Read more: Chinese state firm agrees US$400m loan with Niger junta in return for oil

The United States built a base in the desert city of Agadez at the cost of US$100 million to fly a fleet of drones.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in March 2023 became the highest-ranking American ever to visit Niger, vowing economic support for one of the world’s poorest countries and seeking to bolster elected president Mohamed Bazoum, a stalwart Western ally.

But the military four months later sacked Bazoum and quickly kicked out troops from former colonial power France.

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