US wants Sahel force strategy before giving money: officials

The United States strongly supports an African military force to combat extremist militants in the Sahel region, but needs to see a strategy for the operation before it considers funding, the US envoy to the United Nations and the US Africa commander said.

Washington is wary, however, of the 193-member United Nations funding the force – to be made up of troops from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania – according to Ambassador Nikki Haley and General Thomas Waldhauser.

The United States currently funds more than a quarter of the $7.3 billion UN peacekeeping budget.

Haley said Washington wanted to know “what the strategy would be, how they see this playing out, what’s involved in it before we ever commit to UN-assessed funding.”

“Show us something, we’re open to it, we’re not saying no, but what we’re saying right now (is) there literally has been no information that has been given that gives us comfort that they know exactly how this is going to play out,” Haley told reporters on Friday.

Read: Sahel herders facing harshest dry season in years, aid agency warns

The rise of militant groups – some linked to al Qaeda and Daesh – in the arid Sahel has alarmed Western powers like France, which has deployed thousands of troops to the region in response.

The United States has also been targeting Daesh in Libya and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

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