France, Japan to discuss joint counterterrorism operations in Africa


France and Japan will discuss possible cooperation in tackling jihadi groups in Africa, during a ministerial visit this week that will focus on securing borders in the troubled Sahel region, according to a diplomatic source.

“The idea is that we can perhaps work on a joint initiative around the borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso as part of the fight against cross-border threats, notably the terrorist threat,” the French source said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, are traveling to Japan on Thursday for wide-ranging talks, including discussions on the Plan of Action for Africa, which has been in the pipeline for several months.

The plan also touches on counterpiracy missions, building on their current cooperation in Djibouti with possible expansion into the Gulf of Guinea, the source said.

It also envisages greater cooperation on peacekeeping missions, sustainable development and health care, including reconstruction in the wake of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

In addition, France and Japan are expected to sign an agreement on defense industry cooperation, which will act as a base for specific tie-ups in the future.

A French delegation will also take part in the Disaster Risk Relief meeting in Sendai on Saturday, as part of the build-up to the global climate conference being hosted by Paris in December.

A strategic dialogue came into force between France and Japan in January 2014, leading to frequent high-level visits on political, security and economic issues.