NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Germany can build a military logistics base in Niger as it seeks to strengthen the fight against extremism in this West African country and in neighboring Mali, Niger's president said Monday.
President Mahamadou Issoufou spoke alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the second leg of the European leader's three-nation African visit.
"New challenges give us the means to expand our bilateral cooperation," Issoufou said, pointing out the country's issues with security and migration as it also shares borders with Libya and Chad. "Naturally, we would give facilities to Germany for a logistics center to help supply its soldiers in Mali fighting against terrorism."
Germany has about 650 troops supporting the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali.
"There is a strong link between illegal migration and the trafficking of illicit arms in conflict zones, and we will help Niger to fight this phenomenon by providing Niger's army with equipment, notably vehicles, other materials and expertise," Merkel said.
Niger is a major transit point for African migrants making their way north toward Europe. On Thursday, Merkel said in a speech to Germany's main industry lobby group that some 90 percent of the migrants who reach the Libyan coast come through Niger.
Libya has been a launching point for thousands of migrants setting off toward Europe on often deadly voyages across the Mediterranean.
Niger's president welcomed Germany's cooperation in economic and social development, saying it is the best way to stem illegal migration.
Merkel next visits Ethiopia on Tuesday.