The Latest: Macron says intel-sharing with US to continueMay 19, 2017 4:55pm

GAO, Mali (AP) — The Latest on French president's first official trip outside Europe (all times local):

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4:55 p.m.

France's new president Emmanuel Macron is praising a "crucial" and "exemplary" relationship with the United States in intelligence-sharing for military operations in Africa's Sahel region.

In a news conference during his trip to Mali, where France leads a military intervention against Islamic extremists, Macron said that without intelligence exchanges with the United States, "we would not be able to operate in the area."

Macron says he has no doubt the cooperation will continue, given recent comments by President Donald Trump about his commitment to eradicate terrorism.

The French leader says he will discuss defense and security issues with Trump during a working lunch at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday.

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4:10 p.m.

France's new President Emmanuel Macron is vowing to tackle the root of terrorism by promoting development cooperation in Mali.

Macron said in a speech to French armed forces during a visit to the West African nation that French-led military efforts aim to create the conditions of a "sustainable peace."

He also said France and Germany will strengthen cooperation in the coming months to fight Islamic extremists in Africa's vast Sahel region.

Macron said he discussed the issue this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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12:25 p.m.

Mali's president is warning that the French-led fight against extremist groups in West Africa, which he calls "an enemy with a thousand faces," is going to be a long-term job.

At a news conference with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said isn't possible to say when the conflict might end but added: "We are progressing, of that you can be certain."

Operation Barkhane is France's largest overseas military mission and was launched after extremist groups overran northern Mali in 2012.

Keita praised France for coming to Mali's aid, saying his country "will be eternally grateful to the French people for not abandoning it."

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11:55 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is vowing to maintain France's military operations in Mali and "be intractable" with extremist groups in West Africa. He is also asking Germany to provide more support to French-led efforts to eradicate them.

At a news conference during his visit Friday to a military base in Mali, Macron said he spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week about getting more logistical support for the French-led military mission in West Africa. He said Merkel backs the idea.

Macron added that the terror threat in West Africa is "clearly a risk for Europe."

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10:45 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has kicked off his visit to Mali, his first official trip outside Europe since his May 7 election.

Images shown on French TV showed Macron disembarking at an air base in the eastern city of Gao. He was greeted by Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and ranks of troops.

Macron is visiting France's largest overseas military mission and following up on his campaign promise that fighting terror would be a top priority.

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9:05 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron will kick off his Mali visit by holding talks with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The rest of his day there Friday will be devoted almost entirely to familiarizing himself with French troops who are combating West African extremist groups.

Macron's schedule includes a closed door-briefing by commanders of Operation Barkhane. It is France's largest overseas military mission, with more than 4,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

He also will have lunch with troops, tour a surgical unit, have a briefing on military operations and give a speech to French forces.

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8:00 a.m.

On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a scheduled visit to French-led military forces combating jihadist groups in West Africa.

During Friday's trip to Mali, Macron will be briefed on the inner workings of Operation Barkhane. It is France's largest overseas military mission, with more than 4,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. He is expected to visit a French base in the eastern city of Gao.

Macron repeatedly pledged ahead of his May 7 election that fighting terror would be his priority, after multiple attacks in France since 2015 that killed more than 230 people.

Most of the West African extremist groups France is combating trace their origins to al-Qaida's North Africa branch.

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