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US agrees to pull troops from Niger

The United States 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.

Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell accepted the call to remove troops in a meeting in Washington with the prime minister of the junta, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, US officials told journalists on condition of anonymity.

They agreed that a US delegation would head within days to the capital Niamey to arrange an orderly withdrawal.

Protesters hold a sign demanding that soldiers from the United States Army leave Niger

Nigerien state television earlier announced that the US officials would visit next week.

Niger was long a linchpin in the US and French strategy to combat jihadists in West Africa. The United States built a base in the desert city of Agadez at the cost of $100 million to fly a fleet of drones.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Niger in March 2023 in an effort to show support and bolster president Mohamed Bazoum, a key Western ally.

However the military four months later sacked Mr Bazoum and soon kicked out troops from former colonial power France.

The junta, like the military governments in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, has also sought closer relations with Russia.

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