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Germany Accelerates Mali Pullout

FILE - This file photo taken on August 2, 2018 shows German soldiers during a patrol on the route from Gao to Gossi, Mali. In 2023, Germany announced it was ending its presence in Mali, with that pullout accelerated in June.

BERLIN - German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told broadcaster ZDF on Wednesday that Germany is looking to pull its soldiers out of Mali faster, though still in an ordered manner, in light of the planned end of a United Nations peacekeeping mission on June 30.

"For us, this means that we will try to get out even faster, to get out of Mali but in an orderly way," Minister Pistorius said.

Germany, which has deployed some 1,000 troops to Mali, already is withdrawying troops and aims to wind up by May 2024.

The German announcement comes a day after it was reported that France has proposed to the U.N. Security Council the end of U.N. "MINUSMA" security force operations by June 30, with troops withdrawn by year's end.

The withdrawal of the 13,000-strong mission, known as MINUSMA, would come after years of tensions between the U.N. and Mali's military junta came to a head this month when Mali Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop asked the force to leave "without delay."

It would mean an abrupt halt to a mission that has been hobbled by government restrictions since Mali teamed up with Russia's Wagner mercenary group in 2021.