Hollande spoke ahead of a summit with African leaders in Mali with the fight against extremists, the struggle to improve governance and the migrant crisis high on the agenda.

 

 

Mali had called on France four years ago to help force jihadist fighters out of key northern cities. To this day, 4,000 French troops remain in the country and across the Sahel region.

 

“It’s the same fight, the same stakes,” Hollande said while meeting troops in Gao, the fractious city in northern Mali that is home to a French military base.

 

“The terrorists who attack our land, who commit acts on our soil, are allied with those who are in the Levant, in Iraq and Syria, but here as well, in the Sahel,” Hollande said.

 

Earlier his foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged African nations to deal with the security threats they face but also to look at how development was progressing.

 

Ministers from at least 30 nations met in Mali’s capital Bamako Friday in advance of the arrival of heads of state to the Africa-France summit on Saturday.

 

In a bid to help crush the jihadist threat, France has trained more than 20,000 African soldiers every year since 2013, according to a French diplomatic source.