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Politics & press news – Embassy 44

Sahel counter-terrorism is G8 priority

Greater international support for democracy and security in the Sahel countries will  be “at the top of the agenda” at Britain’s G8 presidency, Prime Minister David Cameron signalled in the wake of the Algerian hostage crisis and the military intervention in Mali against Islamist extremists.

Mr Cameron promised long-term engagement in the region: “It will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months, and it requires a response that is patient, that is painstaking, that is tough but also intelligent, but above all has an absolutely iron resolve.”

He added that the challenge required “countries to work together” and that he would use Britain’s chairmanship of the G8 “to make sure this issue is right at the top of the agenda where it belongs.”

The Prime Minister recently convened his National Security Council for a strategic overview of Britain’s engagement with the region. Foreign Secretary William Hague also indicated that more of Britain’s aid budget would be redirected to countries in the Sahel.

The UK is already co-funding a police and military base on the Mali-Algeria border, helping with emergency planning training in Mali and Niger, and is working closely with Nigeria to combat the threat of terrorism.

Mr Hague added: “We are also working with European allies to develop an effective EU approach to security and development in the Sahel.”

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