German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius has said the country 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,” he told broadcaster ZDF on Wednesday.
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Germany, which has deployed some 1,000 soldiers to Mali, is already withdrawing them and aims to wind up by May 2024.
The troops were mostly stationed near the northern town of Gao where their main task is to gather reconnaissance for the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA.
MINUSMA, officially known as UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, was established in 2013 to support foreign and local troops battling armed groups. But in recent months, there have been repeated instances of friction between the Malian military government and the mission.
The mission has about 12,000 military personnel deployed in the country. The three largest contributors are Chad, Bangladesh and Egypt.
Europe’s relations with Mali have deteriorated since a military coup in 2020 and since the government invited fighters from the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked private military company, to support its fight against rebels.
That prompted France to withdraw its troops in 2022 after almost a decade in Mali.