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  • A diplomat told AFP that France was examining a request from Mali to review bilateral defense agreements, without disclosing further details.
  • This, as tensions rise between Paris and the ruling junta in Bamako, as France has thousands of troops in Mali.
  • Bamako has submitted suggested amendments to Paris, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told a French news channel.

Mali has asked France for a review of bilateral defense agreements in the context of rising tensions between Paris and the ruling junta in Bamako, a French diplomat said on Monday.

The diplomat told AFP that France was “examining” the request, without detailing its content.

Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga said on state television on Saturday that the agreements were “unbalanced,” noting that Mali “cannot even fly over its territory without France’s permission.”

Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop later told French news channel France 24 that Bamako had submitted suggested amendments to Paris.

A military operation launched by France in January 2013 to fight jihadists in Mali – first called Serval, then Barkhane – falls under the bilateral agreement reached in March 2013.

Meanwhile, bilateral relations have been strained by the presence of Russian Wagner group mercenaries in Mali and French moves to reorganize its military presence in the country.

France has thousands of troops in Mali and neighboring West African Sahel countries as part of an anti-jihadist force.

Last week, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France planned to stay in Mali, “but not under any conditions.”

Last week, Mali’s regional neighbors closed their common borders after the Economic Community of West African States imposed new sanctions on Bamako for failing to meet a timetable to return to civilian rule.

Even after years of foreign troop presence, jihadists operating in the Sahel between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have continued with deadly raids against security forces and civilians.

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