France promises more security and support for education in Benin – KIRO 7 News Seattle

COTONOU, Benin — (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday pledged security cooperation and support for Benin in the fight against growing threats from extremism, as well as investments in education and a center culture for the West African nation.

Macron made the promises after meeting Beninese President Patrice Talon as part of a three-country tour to improve relations with West and Central African nations. Benin is the second leg of Macron’s trip after his visit to Cameroon. He then heads to Guinea-Bissau.

“France promises air support, intelligence and equipment as well as training for Benin’s defense and security forces,” Macron said at a press conference alongside Talon. “We are also going to meet Benin’s needs in terms of equipment and help the country structure the arming of its army.

Benin and neighboring Togo have recently suffered deadly extremist attacks and are seeing an increased risk of violence from al-Qaeda and Islamic State-linked groups spreading further south from Mali, Niger and the Burkina Faso.

As France withdraws from Mali, it is restructuring its troop deployment.

Macron promised to follow the needs of African states “to fight terrorism and provide support in terms of training, equipment and support”.

Macron also announced French investments in education and culture in Benin, where more than a dozen artifacts were returned in 2021 after being looted by French colonial forces in 1892. The two had previously visited works returned from the royal treasures of Abomey.

Talon welcomed France’s support, which will also include increased funding for education, and said the two countries would also develop an arts center in Cotonou.

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