Pompeo starts Africa tour in Senegal

The US is considering what level of military power it needs to have in Africa to combat extremism.
The US is considering what level of military power it needs to have in Africa to combat extremism.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration is assessing what level of American military force is needed in West Africa to counter the rise of extremist violence.

Pompeo said he discussed the issue of the US military presence in West Africa with Senegal President Macky Sall amid reports the Trump administration intends to reduce troops in Africa.

"We did have a lot of conversation about security issues here, about America's role in those. We've made it clear that the Department of Defence is looking at West Africa to make sure we have our force levels right," Pompeo said to reporters on Sunday.

"We have an obligation to get security right here, in the region - it's what will permit economic growth and we're determined to do that," Pompeo said. " We'll deliver an outcome that works for all of us."

Senegal's Foreign Minister Amadou Ba confirmed that West Africa is concerned about the spread of extremist violence.

"Terrorism has no border, and it is very costly," said Ba at the news conference with Pompeo. He said Senegal and the region wants continued military support from the US

"Yes, we are under threat," Ba said. "We want them (the US) to remain present. We hope they will continue to support in security areas. We hope they will continue to support us in training and intelligence.

Pompeo left Senegal Sunday to go to Angola and after that will travel to Ethiopia as the Trump administration tries to counter the growing interest of China, Russia and other global powers in Africa and its booming young population of more than 1.2 billion.

Ethiopia,has undergone dramatic political reforms since Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. The loosening of repressive measures has been exploited by some with long-held grievances, leading to sometimes violent ethnic tensions that threaten a national election later this year.

Australian Associated Press