Emmanuel Macron’s India visit focuses on fighting extremism

President Emmanuel Macron arrived yesterday in conflict-torn Mali to visit French troops fighting jihadists on his first official trip outside Europe since taking power.

“Rarely in French political history had there been such a confluence of favorable conditions for the election of an extremist and populist candidate in a presidential race: a lingering European Union migrant crisis, the soaring recurrence of actual and prevented terror attacks throughout the country, increasing segments of French society feeling disenfranchised, a growing voters’ fatigue with worn-out manifestos by self-seeking traditional parties, and a stagnating national economy; all seemed essential ingredients for a majority vote in favor of Marine Le Pen”, notes analyst Solon Ardittis of the Germany-based Institute of Labor Economics, an independent research institute.

Over 4,000 French, UN, and Malian troops are stationed in five nations in the Sahel in West Africa, Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, in France’s Operation Barkhane created to crack down on jihadists. When the pro-European Macron appointed his new prime minister and government, the foreign ministry was pointedly renamed the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (R) hold a joint press conference on the sidelines of Macron’s visit to the troops of France’s Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Africa’s Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, on May 19, 2017.

Bruno Le Maire, who served under former centre-right President Nicolas Sarkozy, has been named as Macron’ s Economy Minister, Nicolas Hulot, a well-known environmentalist, becomes Ecology Minister, the media reports added. Before their meeting, Macron said he wants a Europe that is both more conducive to investment and more protective of workers. Mr. Macron’s own La Republique en Marche movement is fielding candidates for the elections – more than 400 of whom have been chosen.

Muriel Penicaud, the new labor minister, previously worked for food corporation Danone and French telecommunications group Orange.

The French leader says he will discuss defense and security issues with Trump during a working lunch at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said there is a need to limit the number of journalists during certain visits. The Kremlin said the two voiced readiness to develop their nations’ “traditionally friendly” economic, political and cultural ties.

Macron said he has “no doubt” the cooperation will continue, adding that he will discuss defense and security issues with President Donald Trump during a working lunch at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on Thursday. It noted that they underlined the importance of cooperation in settling the Ukrainian crisis on the basis of the Minsk agreement. France and Germany jointly brokered the 2015 peace deal for eastern Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron is vowing to maintain France’s military operations in Mali and “be intractable” with extremist groups in West Africa.

From the outgoing Socialist government, Jean-Yves le Drian, ex-defense minister and a close ally to former president Francois Hollande was the sole survivor.

The armed forces will now be led by Sylvie Goulard, the most senior woman in the government.