Niamey and Washington reach an agreement for an American withdrawal by mid-September

Pending the withdrawal of the Americans the Nigerien authorities continue

The American army is committed to withdrawing its thousand soldiers and their equipment from Niger no later than September 15, 2024. This is what emerges from several days of negotiations between the Nigerien and American armies in Niamey. The joint press release signed by the two parties specifies that the withdrawal will be carried out with mutual respect and transparency.

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In a joint press release, the two countries indicated on Sunday May 19 that they had “ reached a disengagement agreement to carry out the withdrawal of American forces which has already begun “. And give a deadline: it must be finished “ no later than September 15, 2024 », According to the press release signed by Nigerien Minister of Defense, Salifou Modi and the American Under Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, Christopher Maier.

Two months after the denunciation of the military cooperation agreement by the Niamey regime, which came to power through a coup d’état in July 2023, the American forces are starting to pack up. This decision comes after several days of discussions between a delegation from the US Department of Defense and their Nigerien counterparts in Niamey this week, “ in complete transparency and perfect mutual respect between the two parties “.

Protection and security guarantees

For this disengagement, procedures have been established to “ facilitate entry and exit of U.S. personnel, including overflight and landing permissions for military flights », Indicate the two countries on Sunday. Guarantees of “ protection and security » were also given to American forces during their withdrawal.

Faced with Niamey’s demands, Washington agreed in mid-April to withdraw from the country its soldiers deployed in the anti-jihadist fight. Their number is estimated at 650 plus a few hundred contract workers. In Niger, the United States notably has a major drone base near Agadez built for $100 million.

Read alsoDiscussions begin between Washington and Niamey on the withdrawal of American troops from Niger

The withdrawal of American forces in no way affects the continuation of relations between the United States and Niger in the field of development », Indicate the two countries in the Sunday press release. American cooperation for development aid should in fact continue with a new agreement worth nearly $500 million over three years, according to the Nigerien Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Despite the French withdrawal, the United States had hoped for a time to be able to remain in Niger. But relations deteriorated in March after the visit of a delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee. According to Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, during this visit, Ms. Phee notably threatened the Niamey authorities with sanctions if Niger signed an agreement to sell the uranium it produces to Iran. Threats deemed “ unacceptable », which led, according to him, to the breakdown of military cooperation with Washington.

Read alsoNiger: threats from Washington caused the end of military agreements, according to the Prime Minister