Posts Tagged ‘Mali’

U.S. Military Re-Evaluates Mission in Niger After Deadly Attack

October 7, 2017

Body of fourth American soldier killed in ambush earlier this week is recovered

WASHINGTON—The U.S. military said Friday it is reassessing its training mission in Niger after a deadly Islamic State ambush killed four elite U.S. soldiers on a routine patrol with local forces.

The decision to review the role of American forces in western Africa came after a search-and-rescue team recovered the body of a fourth American soldier killed in Wednesday’s attack.

The ambush marked the first time militants have killed elite U.S. soldiers training and advising forces in Niger.

“This was not expected,” said Col. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for the military’s Africa Command. “Had we anticipated this sort of attack, we absolutely would have devoted more resources to it to reduce the risk.”

Niger is a key U.S. ally in western Africa. The U.S. has a drone base in Niger, and it is building a second one there to help with counterterrorism operations, including surveillance of militants coming across the border from Libya and Mali.

The four Americans were part of a 12-member Army team taking part in a joint foot patrol with about 30 Nigerien soldiers near the Mali border.

Col. Cheadle said they were planning to meet local leaders and that any “threat was deemed to be unlikely.” While on patrol, the forces chased a small group of men on motorcycles headed toward the Mali border, officials said. As the soldiers headed back, they were ambushed by as many as 50 Islamic State fighters on motorcycles and in pickup trucks with mounted machine guns. The firefight killed four American soldiers and injured two others. Five Nigerien troops were also killed.

As the U.S. and Nigerien forces fought their way to safety, they discovered that one American soldier was missing, officials said. Pentagon officials work ed to keep the missing soldier out of the news while they tried to locate the missing American.

More than 100 troops from the U.S., France and Niger launched an intensive search for the soldier, who was able to activate a military beacon that helped them recover his body, military officials said. The beacon went silent on Thursday, making the search more challenging, officials said. Nigerien forces found the missing service member’s remains early Friday, Col. Cheadle said.

Read More

  • U.S. Troops Caught in Ambush by Dozens of Islamic State Fighters in Niger
  • Three U.S. Troops Killed in Ambush in Niger
  • Islamic State in Africa Tries to Lure Members From al-Shabaab

The soldier is believed to have died from injuries sustained during the initial attack, Col. Cheadle said, noting his remains were found “in the vicinity of the attack.”

The four slain soldiers were with the 3rd Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, N.C. On Friday, the U.S. military identified the three other service members killed as Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35 years old, of Puyallup, Wash.; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Ga. Two other American soldiers were wounded and evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

The name of the fourth soldier will be released Saturday. Col. Cheadle said the soldier’s wife had been notified on Friday.

There are roughly 800 U.S. service members in Niger, and the U.S. military has periodically sent troops to the border region to help local forces combat the burgeoning contraband– and people-smuggling routes, fueled, in part, by the instability in Libya.

Write to Nancy A. Youssef at Nancy.Youssef@wsj.com

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Troops killed in ambush on joint Niger-US patrol

October 5, 2017

Al Jazeera

Five Nigerien and three US special forces killed in attack on joint patrol in southwest Niger, officials say.

 

Five Nigerien and three US special forces were killed and others wounded in an ambush on a joint patrol in southwest Niger.

The attack, which occurred on Wednesday night, marks the first US combat casualties in Niger, where Washington provides training and security assistance in the fight against armed groups in the Sahel region.

“We can confirm reports that a joint US and Nigerien patrol came under hostile fire in southwest Niger,” a spokesperson of the US Africa Command told Radio France International (RFI) by telephone.

According to RFI, the ambush took place after fighters from Mali attacked the village of Tongo Tongo in Tillaberi. A counter-operation was launched, but the US and Niger soldiers fell into a trap, according to the radio report.

Namatta Abubacar, an official for the region of Tillaberi, told Niger TV that five Nigerian soldiers were among the dead.

READ MORE: The re-emergence of AQIM in Africa

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but the area is largely controlled by fighters, including members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

African security forces backed by Western troops have been stepping up efforts to counter the armed groups, which are part of a growing regional rebellion in the Sahel region.

Presidents of the Sahel countries, including Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad, are working on final modalities to set up a G5 Sahel force to help fight the numerous groups that are active in the region.

In mid-September, the government of President Mahamadou Issoufou extended Niger’s state of emergency in force since March due to a threat coming from Mali.

Analysts said the deadly incident will not change Washington’s involvement in the fight against armed groups in the Sahel.

“For several years the US has been expanding its footprint in that area. They are there to train the indigenous forces and not to carryout raids. And I don’t see that changing because of this incident,” Martin Reardon, a former FBI officer and senior vice president of Soufan group – a security intelligence organisation – told Al Jazeera.

“This ambush will not have blowback in the Congress. Politically this incident will not become a hot potato in Washington or Niger,” Reardon said.

In mid-June, Niger mounted a new military operation in the Tillaberi region to take on the armed groups.

The United Nations later warned that the conflict in Mali was spilling over to Burkina Faso and Niger, after a significant surge of attacks in border areas.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/troops-killed-ambush-joint-niger-patrol-171005041922809.html

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Three U.S. Special Forces troops killed in Niger ambush

October 5, 2017

By

The Washington Post
October 4 at 9:35 PM

Three Army Special Forces soldiers were killed in Niger in northwestern Africa after their joint patrol with Nigerien forces was ambushed, according to reports.

Image result for U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes Nigerien soldiers during, photos

A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes Nigerien soldiers during marksmanship training in Diffa, Niger, on Feb. 28, 2017. (U.S. Army)

“We are working to confirm details on the incident and will have more information as soon as we can confirm facts on the ground,” a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command told The Washington Post. The Associated Press reported that two U.S. soldiers also were wounded. The New York Times was the first to confirm the deaths.

Africa Command did not elaborate on the nature of the patrol or why the unit would come into contact with enemy forces on what are typically training and advising missions there. The AP reported the attack occurred north of the capital Niamey, near the Mali border.

Location of  Niger  (dark green)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger

The deaths mark the first hostile-fire casualties in Niger. A 3rd Special Forces Group soldier was killed in a vehicle accident there in February.

The United States has expanded its operations in Niger in recent years, including surveillance drone flights piloted from Niamey. The United States is also finishing construction on an installation at Agadez, a central city in the Sahara, that will move flights closer to southern Libya and northern Mali. Closer proximity will allow longer flights, giving drone operators more time to monitor remote desert stretches where militants are known to traverse.

Third Special Forces Group and other forces are tasked with training missions in Niger to combat extremist groups in the region, including security assistance with intelligence and reconnaissance efforts. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operates in Mali, further straining security on the border region.

Nasser Weddady, a regional security analyst, told The Post it was unusual for U.S. troops to operate far into the western parts of the country, though the Pentagon contracted fuel deliveries for Ouallam, The Drive reported, a city about halfway between the capital and the Mali border.

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Boko Haram fighters engage soldiers in southeastern Niger in 2016
Amateur video purports to show Boko Haram fighters clashing with soldiers in Bosso, Niger in June 2016. (Reuters)
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France seeks UN sanctions regime for Mali

September 1, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Mali’s government and coalitions of armed groups signed a peace deal in June 2015 to end years of fighting in the north that culminated with a takeover of the territory by jihadists in 2012
UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) – France is asking the UN Security Council to set up a sanctions regime for Mali to punish opponents of the 2015 peace deal as fears grow that the West African country is sliding back into turmoil, according to a draft resolution obtained by AFP on Friday.

The move is backed by Mali’s government which told the council in a letter last month that repeated violations of a ceasefire since the beginning of June were threatening to derail the peace deal.

The French-drafted resolution presented last month would set up a sanctions committee made up of all Security Council members who would designate individuals and entities to be blacklisted by the United Nations.

Those who are blacklisted would be subject to a global travel ban and an assets freeze.

It was unclear when the proposal would come up for a vote at the Security Council.

Mali’s government and coalitions of armed groups signed a peace deal in June 2015 to end years of fighting in the north that culminated with a takeover of the territory by jihadists in 2012.

A French-led military intervention in January 2013 drove out the Islamists, but insurgents remain active, moving to the center where attacks and trafficking of drugs and weapons are on the rise.

Mali and four neighboring countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger – are working to set up a counter-terrorism force to fight jihadists in the Sahel, which France has warned could become a haven for extremists.

In the latest attack to shake the region, gunmen opened fire on a restaurant in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou on August 14, killing 19 people including several foreigners who were dining on a terrace.

The UN peacekeeping force in Mali has come under repeated attacks by insurgents and is now known as the world’s most dangerous UN mission.

Four armed groups active in Mali are already on the UN sanctions blacklist for their ties to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS): Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the MUJAO Islamist movement, Al-Mourabitoun and the Ansar Eddine group along with its leader Iyad Ag Ghali.

The measure would also set up a panel of experts tasked with monitoring compliance with the sanctions and reporting to the council on violations.

The sanctions regime would have a one-year mandate.

Burkina Faso Stunned by Another Deadly Extremist Attack

August 16, 2017

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The scene was all too familiar: Islamic extremists striking a popular dining spot while dozens of patrons, many of them foreigners, took a break from daily life in Burkina Faso. Victims were gunned down at random. Gunfire rang out for hours as special forces worked to secure the scene.

After Sunday night’s deadly attack on Kwame N’krumah Avenue, some in this West African nation are wondering: How could this happen again only 200 meters (yards) away from the first massacre in January 2016? And why is the capital no safer?

Location of  Burkina Faso  (dark blue)– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)– in the African Union  (light blue)  –  [Legend]

“There are no words to explain our anger and despair,” said Ousseni Tanagda, whose job selling phone credit has suffered since the 2016 attack on a popular cafe. “I was afraid of staying here because the security measures set up earlier were no more strictly respected as they used to be.”

While Burkina Faso shares a border with volatile Mali — long home to such attacks — the 2016 massacre that killed 30 people shocked many in Ouagadougou. The capital is home to many foreigners working with the United Nations and international aid organizations in this desperately poor country on the edge of the Sahara.

After that attack, security measures were strengthened at sensitive places such as banks, hotels and restaurants, with many hiring armed security personnel. As more time passed without another attack, locals say some of those measures eased.

In recent months, however, the United States and France warned their citizens to avoid certain areas of Burkina Faso, mainly the unstable north near Mali and Niger but also the capital.

Already Sunday’s assault on the Aziz Istanbul restaurant that left 18 people dead has had political fallout, with one former minister saying it underscores “the failure of our security system.”

“Two attacks in about 18 months in the same spot with the same mode of operation, it’s not acceptable,” said Ablasse Ouedraogo, who served as foreign affairs minister during the era of longtime leader Blaise Compaore. “It’s as though we have not learned any lessons.”

Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising in late 2014, and some critics say the military has suffered during the years of political upheaval ever since. During the 2016 assault, Burkina Faso’s security forces waited for hours before trying to intervene despite having people at the scene. During Sunday’s attack, gunfire also rang out for nearly seven hours before officials noted there were only two assailants.

Capt. Guy Ye, spokesman for the special forces, said they are better equipped now than in 2016 but he acknowledged they are still learning.

“There were hostages who had to be freed before launching the assault against the terrorists who were hiding in the back of the restaurant,” he said.

Ouedraogo, the former minister, said the army and security sector need an overhaul. Already they’ve received specialized training from both the French and U.S. militaries.

Felix Alexandre Sanfo, a security expert, said Burkinabes are learning they must accept that the threat of terrorism is here to stay, just as it is in many other parts of the world.

“Many think it’s a problem that can be solved definitively,” Sanfo said. “We are not prepared to maintain an elevated level of vigilance on a permanent basis. People have quickly let down their guard because they think the danger is behind us.”

On the contrary, regional security analysts point to a deepening and troubling Islamic extremism movement in northern Burkina Faso, where an Australian doctor who had spent decades treating civilians has been abducted and remains missing.

The region is now the home of a Burkinabe extremist figure, Malam Dicko, who has collaborated with militants across the border in Mali. Among his objectives has been seeking to end the use of French, the former colonizer’s language, in regional schools. Burkinabe forces backed by French military counterparts have tried to take out Dicko but he remains at large.

Burkina Faso is now one of five regional nations putting together a 5,000-strong force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region. The first units are expected to deploy in October and all battalions should be on the ground by March. The countries have been pressing the international community to help funding; a gap of 305 million euros ($356 million) remains.

Burkina Faso’s government knows it must move quickly to avoid the political instability and human suffering inflicted by extremists to the north in Mali.

“If we do not master intelligence quickly, we will continue to count the dead due to terrorism because the situation is alarming,” said an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

“We are vulnerable now, and the situation calls for lucid, cool and objective analysis.”

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Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Popular sites targeted in string of Africa attacks

August 14, 2017

© AFP | Burkina Faso gendarmes and troops launch an operation after gunmen attacked a Turkish restaurant in the capital Ouagadougou

PARIS (AFP) – The attack on a Turkish restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital on Sunday was the latest in a series of assaults in Africa targeting spots popular with foreigners and locals alike.Here is an overview of the worst such attacks in recent years, most of which have been claimed by jihadist groups:

– 2017 –

– August 13: Three gunmen open fire at a Turkish restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, killing at least 18 people and injuring dozens.

– June 18: At least two people are killed when suspected jihadists stormed the Kangaba tourist resort popular with foreigners on the edge of Mali’s capital Bamako. More than 30 hostages are freed.

– June 14: At least six people are killed when a suicide car bomber targets the popular Posh Treats restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab claims responsibility.

– 2016 –

– March 13: Fourteen civilians, including foreigners, and two special forces troops are killed when gunmen storm the Ivorian beach resort of Grand-Bassam. Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claims responsibility.

– January 15: Thirty people are killed, including many foreigners, in an attack on a top Burkina Faso hotel and a nearby restaurant in Ouagadougou. AQIM claims the assault, saying the gunmen were from the Al-Murabitoun group of Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

– 2015 –

– November 20: Gunmen take guests and staff hostage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in a siege that leaves at least 20 dead, including 14 foreigners. The attack is claimed by AQIM, which says it was a joint operation with the Al-Murabitoun group. Another jihadist group from central Mali, the Macina Liberation Front, also claims responsibility.

– October 31: A Russian passenger jet is downed en route from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort to Saint Petersburg, killing all 224 on board. The Egyptian branch of the Islamic State group claims responsibility. Russia confirms the crash was caused by a bomb.

– August 8: Malian armed forces storm the Byblos hotel in the centre of the country, ending a hostage-taking by gunmen that leaves at least 12 people dead including four UN foreign contractors.

– June 26: Thirty Britons are among 38 foreign holidaymakers killed in a gun and grenade attack on a beach resort near the Tunisian city of Sousse. The attack is claimed by the Islamic State group.

– March 18: Gunmen kill 21 tourists and a policeman at the Bardo Museum in Tunis in another attack claimed by IS.

– March 7: A grenade and gun attack on the popular La Terrasse nightclub in Bamako kills five people — three Malians, a Belgian and a Frenchman. The attack is claimed by Al-Murabitoun.

burs-boc/txw

‘Secularism’ of the Arab Gulf countries — Qatar will not surrender its Islamic identity and Islamic teachings

August 3, 2017

03 Aug 2017 – 5:47

Dr. Khalid Al-Shafi | Editor-in-Chief

Image may contain: text

As masks are dropped, secrets exposed and the public has become well aware of the hidden objectives and suspicious ambitions of one of the GCC countries, it is not a surprise to see all attacks being launched against Qatar.

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Yes, it is not a surprise to see all these offences and pre-planned and multi-faceted fabrications against Qatar being employed to insult it because of the reputation it has gained in international fora and efforts it has made to get its name engraved in corridors of global policies.

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Perhaps envy has made the vision of the leaders of this certain country but it is extraordinarily unusual to see such level of controversy, leveling of allegations and twisting of ground realities and established facts.

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Openly speaking about plans to introduce secularism in the Arab Gulf countries in the coming years is a naked interference and aggression on other countries affairs. It is political arrogance which will once turn over to its planners.

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The incessant interventions of this country in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Mali and other places have made it feel as if it is a super power to whom the whole region should obey and listen to its dictations.

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Statements and leaked correspondences of one of its diplomats have also revealed that a new Middle East led by this country is being designed in dreams.

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Aspirations towards the future and assuring the advance of states in the field of science and technology should be the target of the policy-makers of the region instead of adopting immature polices and trying to violate other states’ sovereignty to determine their future as it will be political suicide.

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Statements welcoming secularism have been repeatedly made by officials of this country including one of its media officials who said people have to choose between ISIS (Daesh) or secularism as if Arab Gulf countries have to choose one of two alternatives; terrorism or to coming out of Islam.

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Is there anyone who could ask these officials in which direction they are heading? This is a very dangerous statement which must be strongly opposed and strictly rejected specially in the Gulf region which is being governed by Shariah law.

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There is a saying that egotism makes one blind, and I say arrogant people dig a grave for themselves. What is the position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the carrier of the banner of Islam about all these statements? Where are Saudi scholars who were speaking a lot about politics and obedience to leadership?

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Till we see the suitable reactions to these statements and ideas, I would like to say that Qatar will not change unless it is convinced by its own specially on religious matters. Qatar is a state which believes in freedom of people but at the same time it sticks to its Islamic identity and Islamic teachings.

https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/editorInChief/03/08/2017/%E2%80%98Secularism%E2%80%99-of-the-Arab-Gulf-countries

In Paris, Trump Proclaimes United States’ “Unbreakable” Bond with France — Says ‘Something Could Happen’ With Regard to Paris Climate Accord

July 13, 2017

PARIS — U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday appeared to hold the door open to a change of position on the 2015 Paris climate change agreement which he pulled the United States out of earlier this year.

“Something could happen with respect to the Paris accords lets see what happens, but we will talk about that over the coming period of time and if it happens that will be wonderful and if it doesn’t that’ll be OK too,” he told reporters in Paris.

Trump was on a visit to France for Bastille Day celebrations and made the statement in answer to a question at a joint news conference alongside his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Michel Rose)

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The Latest: Trump salutes strong bond between US, France

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The Latest on President Donald Trump’s visit to Paris (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is saluting the United States’ “unbreakable” bond with France.

Trump says the two nations have “occasional disagreements” but that doesn’t disrupt a friendship that dates to the American Revolution.

Trump says at a news conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron that a lot of people forget that France helped “us secure our independence.”

Trump also saluted France’s commitment to fighting terrorism and reducing bureaucracy, a goal he shares.

The American president also touched upon one of those areas of disagreement: climate change. Trump says the United State was committed to protecting the environment despite his recent decision to withdraw from a global agreement to combat climate change.

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6:55 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron (eh-mahn-yoo-EHL’ mah-KROHN’), standing alongside U.S. President Donald Trump, says they have agreed to work toward a post-war roadmap for Syria and are largely in agreement in terms of security and stability in the Mideast.

Macron acknowledged sharp differences with Trump when it comes to the Paris climate agreement. But Macron said he and Trump were able to discuss how best to combat “a global threat with enemies who are trying to destabilize us.”

The two spent several hours together Thursday in some of Paris’ most opulent settings, with a visit at the golden-domed Invalides (ahn-vah-leed) monument followed by a meeting at the presidential palace.

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6:21 p.m.

President Donald Trump was captured complimenting the French president’s wife’s appearance in video posted by the French government’s Facebook account.

The footage shows Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron (eh-mahn-yoo-EHL’ mah-KROHN’) and their wives chatting after their tour of the museums at Les Invalides (lehz ahn-vah-leed).

Trump at one point turns to Brigitte Macron and tells her: “You’re in such good shape.”

He repeats the observation to the French president before turning back to the French first lady, and remarking: “Beautiful.”

Brigitte Macron was her husband’s former high school teacher and their relationship has drawn international attention because of their age difference. Feminist have denounced the comments as sexist, noting that the Macrons’ age difference is identical to that of Donald and Melania Trump.

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4:57 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump has arrived at Elysee Palace for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron and Trump arrived at the French presidential palace after Macron led Trump on a tour of the nearby Les Invalides (lehz ahn-vah-leed) monument. Napoleon’s tomb is located there.

Trump gave Macron a lift in The Beast, the nickname for Trump’s imposing, armored limousine. The leaders shook hands again and posed for the cameras before going inside to begin their talks.

Macron met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before meeting with Trump Thursday. During a joint appearance, both leaders took note of their policy differences with Trump. But they said it’s important to keep communicating with the U.S. leader.

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4:52 p.m.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump in red and her French counterpart Brigitte Macron in white cut a striking contrast on a visit to Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

The two first ladies were met by Notre Dame Rector Patrick Chauvet inside the stone walls in front of the famed North Rose window Thursday afternoon, following a visit to the Invalides (ahn-vah-leed) monument and the final resting place of Napoleon.

The organ began playing as the two presidential spouses met and greeted church officials. They had a warm rapport with Macron putting her arm around Trump at one moment before visiting the cathedral.

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4:12 p.m.

The French presidential Facebook account is broadcasting live from inside the Invalides (ahn-vah-leed) monument, next to Napoleon’s tomb.

The Elysee account showed U.S. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron (eh-mahn-yoo-EHL’ mah-KROHN’) and their wives standing outside the famed French leader’s tomb, with Macron serving as tourist guide.

The live feed shows Macron gesturing at the sculpted walls and describing what they’re seeing to the Trumps in English, which he speaks fluently.

Thursday’s tour will be followed by meetings and a joint press conference by the two men, who got off to a tense start when they were first introduced in May.

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3:52 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron (eh-mahn-yoo-EHL’ mah-KROHN’) are meeting at the Invalides (ahn-vah-leed) monument for a tour of the golden-domed building housing some of France’s greatest war heroes, including Napoleon Bonaparte and the Supreme Allied Commander in World War I.

The national anthems of both countries played as the men stood at attention before reviewing troops at a formal welcome ceremony for Trump.

The two presidents will hold a bilateral meeting later in the day after touring the grandiose military edifice.

Thursday’s ceremony precedes the Bastille Day military parade. Trump will be the parade’s guest of honor to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. U.S. troops will open the parade Friday as is traditional for the guest of honor.

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3 p.m.

President Donald Trump is honoring American World War II veterans during a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

The president is noting in a video clip posted to his Twitter account that the bonds between the U.S. and France were “forged in the fires of war.”

Trump was joined at the outdoor event by three American veterans of the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944. The president is calling them “real heroes” who “fought for freedom in its hour of need.”

Trump is meeting later this afternoon with French President Emmanuel Macron (eh-mahn-yoo-EHL’ mah-KROHN’) and holding a joint news conference.

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11:00 a.m.

Reporters covering President Donald Trump’s trip to Paris are getting off to a rather chaotic start after a segment of his motorcade was separated from him.

The president arrived early Thursday morning and was whisked away from Paris Orly Airport to the U.S. ambassador’s residence in central Paris.

The streets were closed off to traffic while Trump’s motorcade drove past, but the cars on the tail end of his entourage took a wrong turn, drove into oncoming traffic and barely dodged a few pedestrians.

The traveling press corps was among the lost cars and was not able to document Trump’s arrival at the ambassador’s residence.

The White House would not immediately respond to a request for confirmation that Trump had arrived, though journalists were eventually brought to the residence to wait for the president’s meetings to conclude.

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9:40 a.m.

First lady Melania Trump has arrived at France’s biggest pediatric hospital on her first engagement in the two-day French visit.

The sprawling Necker Hospital is one of Paris’ oldest and was founded in 1778. American artist Keith Haring gave a large, multicolored totem sculpture to the hospital in 1987, called “The Tower.”

Melania Trump is touring the hospital shortly after her arrival in France with President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One.

The first lady was greeted by senior Paris medical officials during the tour and later met with some of the hospital’s young patients.

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8:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump will be meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron (eh-mahn-yoo-EHL’ mah-KROHN’) as part of his visit to France for Bastille Day celebrations in Paris.

Trump arrived in Paris on Thursday morning, and was traveling to the U.S. Ambassador’s residence and then attending a luncheon with U.S. military leaders. He’s also expected to tour the museums at Les Invalides (lehz ahn-vah-leed) with Macron and then holding meetings with the French leader.

Trump and Macron are expected to discuss possible solutions to the crisis in Syria and counterterrorism.

The two leaders will appear later in the day for a joint news conference. Trump will be attending the Bastille Day celebrations on Friday before returning to the United States.

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8:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron (eh-mahn-yoo-EHL’ mah-KROHN’), are looking to set aside differences on trade and climate change and find common ground as they meet ahead of Bastille Day celebrations in Paris.

Trump arrived in the French capital Thursday morning, hours before he meets with Macron to tackle potential solutions to the crisis in Syria and broader counterterrorism strategies.

Trump’s decision last month to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord sparked outrage across Europe and anti-Trump protests are planned while he is in Paris.

The leaders plan to hold a news conference after their talks. Trump may face tough questions about emails revealing that his eldest son welcomed the prospect of receiving Russian government support in last year’s presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton.

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In France, Trump and Macron Strive to Put Awkward Start Behind Them

PARIS — They were handshake rivals before President Trump said the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, and his relationship with President Emmanuel Macron of France didn’t seem to get any better after that awkward beginning.

But Mr. Trump and Mr. Macron appear to have put their strange and tense initial relationship behind them, in the service of a working partnership and the love of a parade.

Mr. Trump arrived in Paris just after 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, beginning his second European trip in two weeks. The visit was set in motion by a call Mr. Macron had made to discuss Syria, in which he invited Mr. Trump to Bastille Day celebrations on July 14. The president and the first lady, Melania Trump, landed at Paris Orly Airport on Air Force One to the reception of a 10-car motorcade.

President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, arrived at Paris Orly Airport on Thursday. The French leader invited Mr. Trump to the Bastille Day celebration. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

Mr. Trump loves the trappings of the presidency, whether in the United States or in another country. That includes occupying the most prestigious seats at the Bastille Day ceremony, a pomp-filled parade steeped in military tradition and hardware.

Mr. Trump, for his own inaugural parade, had expressed a desire to include tanks and fighter jets. That wish was not granted, but Mr. Trump remains transfixed by displays of military power.

He arrives in Europe once again leaving behind a trail of questions related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, flying to the more welcoming arms of a foreign leader with whom his bond is still fragile.

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French, German MPs plan joint meeting to bolster ties — Also discussing “perceived threats from the United States under president Donald Trump”

July 13, 2017
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© Tiziana Fabi, AFP | German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the Western Balkans summit in Piazza Unita d’Italia in Trieste, northern Italy, July 12, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-07-13

When the French and German governments sit down for a joint cabinet meeting, the intended message will be clear: the Paris-Berlin alliance that has driven EU integration for the last 59 years is back.

But with less than three months before Germany’s legislative elections, it will be difficult for Paris and Berlin to move ahead on key issues such as the reform of the eurozone.

French President Emmanuel Macron was elected in May promising to overhaul the 28-member bloc with a host of initiatives to deepen EU integration in the areas of defence, security and immigration.

Macron has proposed creating a finance minister, parliament and budget for the eurozone, which would require changes to EU treaties.

“With the Chancellor [Angela Merkel], I want to build ambitious and concrete projects, with a clear purpose,” he told regional daily Ouest-France on Thursday. “I want the eurozone to have more coherence and convergence.”

Macron warned Germany that it must move to correct the “dysfunctions” of the eurozone and give it “the fate it deserves”.

“France must reform its economy to give it more vigour,” he added, but Germany, for its part, “must support a revival of public and private investment in Europe”.

Merkel has agreed to consider the issues, but they will have to wait until after the elections, which her centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is expected to win.

The French leader is also set to press Merkel for a financial and military contribution to a joint anti-jihadist regional force called the G5 Sahel made up of forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

It is not the first time the French and German governments have held a joint cabinet meeting — the last one was in April — but both sides are keen to capitalise on the momentum generated by Macron’s victory.

The bloc is still grappling with the fallout from Britain’s shock vote to exit the EU in a referendum in June 2016.

But Brexit, along with perceived threats from the United States under president Donald Trump, as well as from Russia, has given it a renewed sense of purpose.

After a morning of discussions with Merkel, Macron will host Trump for talks in the afternoon, before they head to dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

(AFP)

French Far-Left Leader Calls Day of Protest, Says Macron “Intoxicated by his own omnipotence.”

July 5, 2017

PARIS — French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon called on Wednesday for a nationwide day of protest next week against government plans for spending cuts and pro-business tax and labor reforms.

Melenchon, a failed presidential candidate earlier this year and now a member of parliament, was speaking a day after a parliamentary vote of confidence in the plans of President Emmanuel Macron, whom he said was getting drunk on power and was trying to undo decades of progress on crucial workers’ rights.

“I ask my friends everywhere in the country to organize rallies for July 12,” said Melenchon, the head of the France Unbowed party who gathered one in five votes in the first round of the presidential election in April.

Image result for Emmanuel Macron, versailles, soldiers, photos

President Emmanuel Macron

Speaking on BFM TV, Melenchon was fiercely critical of Macron’s first two months in power. Macron this week called a special meeting of the both houses of parliament at which he told lawmakers he would use a referendum to get parliamentary reforms through if necessary.

“We are going down a road where he is becoming intoxicated by his omnipotence,” said the 65 year-old who is well-known for his use of powerful language.

“He thinks he can fix all the problems by force. He is wrong.”

Melenchon mobilized the militant leftist vote in the presidential contest and has emerged a forceful voice in a fragmented left. His party, though, won only 17 seats in the parliamentary election which gave Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party a large majority in the 577-seat lower house.

In addition, France’s powerful trade unions have so far been muted in their reaction to the program outlined by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday.

The hardline CGT is the only union to have called a strike to date, and does not plan a major one until September. Other leading unions have sounded a more conciliatory note on talks with the government.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus and Cyril Camu; editing by Richard Lough)

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© POOL/AFP/File | President Emmanuel Macron visited French troops in northern Mali in May as Paris sought to overcome US reservations about backing an anti-jihadist force in the Sahel