July 2, 2017 / 1:43 PM / 21 days ago

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

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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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