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Macron Wraps up Africa Tour in Guinea-Bissau

FILE - French President Emmanuel Macron (R) meets with Guinee Bissau's President Umaro Sissoco Embalo upon his arrival at the presidential palace in Bissau on July 28, 2022.

French President Emmanuel Macron concluded a three-country Africa tour Thursday in Guinea-Bissau, where he pledged funds for education and economic development, as well as military assistance to combat extremism in West and Central Africa.

President Macron met with Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo on Thursday who became the chair of the West African economic bloc ECOWAS earlier this month.

In a press conference following their meeting, the French President said that they discussed bilateral relations as well as the situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, all of which have witnessed coups.

“We spoke at length about the risk of destabilization that the situation in the Sahel poses to the entire West African region. And I reiterated France’s determination, first of all, to remain committed to the Sahel and the region,” Macron said, adding that France could come to support armies with training and equipment and joint missions.

In response, Embalo said that Macron’s presence in Guinea-Bissau was key to highlighting France’s interest in West Africa and the continent.

“I believe that cooperation is already good, but now it will strengthen even more in all areas and especially in the security field,” he said. “We are confronted with terrorism ... not just in the Sahel region, but all of Africa is confronted with this scourge,” he added, welcoming Macron’s support.

Since August 2020, West Africa has faced heightened terrorist attacks as well as many coups and attempted power grabs.

Macron's visit coincides with political upheaval in Guinea-Bissau. In February, 11 people were killed in a failed coup attempt, and in May, Embalo dissolved parliament and called for early legislative elections by the end of the year.

Guinea Bissau was Macron's last leg of his three-nation tour to Africa including Benin and Cameroon.