African, French leaders open summit on peace, climate and economy

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-14 21:20
African, French leaders open summit on peace, climate and economy

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (C) and France's President Francois Hollande (4-L) pose with African leaders for a family picture at the start of the Africa-France summit in Bamako on January 14, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

BAMAKO - African and French leaders kicked off a summit here on Saturday under heavy security, focusing on key issues including peace and security, climate and economy.

The 27th Africa-France Summit was held under the theme of "Partnership, Peace and Emergence", with participation of 35 heads of state and government, including French President Francois Hollande.

During this one-day summit, the French and African heads of state and government will focus on Africa's position in reinforcing peace and security, as well as climate and economic development.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, French President Francois Hollande said "as long as we are united, as long as we are of solidarity, as long as we are together to eradicate the threats to peace, we can succeed."

Hollande promised that France, a victim of terrorism, will train 25,000 African soldiers per year for the coming three years to help the continent tackle security issues.

"France will always be by the side of Mali, till the Malian authorities will be respected across the whole territory of Mali," Hollande affirmed.

Hollande promised efforts to help with Africa's economic development.

He announced France will provide 23 billion euros in the coming five years to support the development of Africa.

A Franco-African investment Foundation is also to be set up by France and to be managed by a Franco-African team.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, for his part, said "the Summit of Bamako is not only a grand political and diplomatic rendezvous, it also opens up a space of exchanges for the social and economic forces".

"The Mali that welcomes you today cannot ignore the difficulties that it faced during the re-conquest of stability," Keita said during his opening speech, referring to the terrorist threats in northern Mali as well as in other parts of Africa.

Some 60 senior representatives of French and African companies are also here in Bamako to participate in the Africa-France Economic Forum.

More than 10,000 people have been mobilized to ensure the security of this summit, which is considered as a come-back of Mali after the political instability since 2012.

In the margin of the summit, the heads of state and government of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) will also meet with Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow to discuss a solution to end the political crisis in Gambia.

First held in France in 1973, the Africa-France Summit aims to maintain and boost relations between France and Africa.


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