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    The US Attempts a New Military Deal with Niger in a Last Ditch Effort to Stay

    The US Attempts a New Military Deal with Niger in a Last Ditch Effort to Stay

    DAKAR, Senegal — The United States is attempting to create a agreement with Niger that would allow it to remain in the country, weeks after the junta said its presence was no longer justified, two Western officials told The Associated Press Friday.

    The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, said was actively working on options for a revised deal aimed at retaining its foothold in the West African nation.

    Niger plays a central role in the U.S. military's operations in Africa's Sahel region, Washington is concerned about the spread of jihadist violence where local groups have pledged allegiance to al-Qaida and the Islamic State groups. Niger is home to a major U.S. airbase, in the of Agadez, some 920 kilometers (550 miles) from the capital Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations. The U.S. has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training Niger's military since it began operations there in 2013.

    But relations have frayed between Niger and Western countries since mutinous soldiers ousted the country's democratically elected president in July. Niger's junta has since told French forces to leave and turned instead to Russia for security. Earlier this month, Russian military trainers arrived to reinforce the country's air defenses and with Russian equipment to train Nigeriens to use.

    The decision…

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