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U.S. agrees to withdraw troops from Niger

4/19: CBS Morning News
4/19: CBS Morning News 20:00

The U.S. has agreed to withdraw its forces from the West African nation of Niger, an official confirmed to CBS News Friday.

A state department official told CBS News in a statement that in a meeting Friday, Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and Nigerian Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine "committed today to initiate conversations in Niamey to begin planning an orderly and responsible withdrawal of U.S troops from Niger."

The two officials "affirmed the importance of the bilateral relationship and agreed to pursue collaboration in areas of joint interest," the statement read.

There are about 1,000 U.S. military personnel in Niger.

Niger has played a central role in the U.S. military's operations in Africa's Sahel region, and Washington is concerned about the spread of jihadist violence where local groups have pledged allegiance to al-Qaida and the Islamic State groups.

Niger U.S. troops
Young boys gather on top of a car while displaying flags of Niger, Burkina Faso and Russia during a demonstration for the immediate departure of U.S. soldiers deployed in northern Niger on April 13, 2024. Thousands of people demonstrated in Niger's capital Niamey to demand the immediate departure of American soldiers. AFP via Getty Images

Niger has been home to a major U.S. airbase in the city of Agadez, some 550 miles from the capital Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations. The U.S. has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training Niger's military since it began operations there in 2013.

But relations have frayed between Niger and Western countries since mutinous soldiers ousted the country's democratically elected president last July. Niger's junta has since told French forces to leave and turned instead to Russia for security. Earlier this month, Russian military trainers arrived to reinforce the country's air defenses and with Russian equipment to train Nigeriens to use.

In October, Washington officially designated the military takeover as a coup, which triggered U.S. laws restricting the military support and aid that it can provide to Niger. In March, a U.S. delegation traveled to Niger to hold discussions at senior levels to explore whether it was possible to achieve an agreement respecting the concerns of both sides, a State Department official told the AP.

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