France delivered a stern warning on Monday against possible U.S. troop cuts in West Africa, where groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are expanding their foothold, Reuters reported.
The Pentagon is considering withdrawing the personnel as part of a global troop review meant to free up more resources to address challenges from China's military, after nearly two decades of prioritizing counter-terrorism operations around the world.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said she warned her U.S. counterpart during a visit to the Pentagon that joint counterterrorism efforts in West Africa would be harmed by cuts to U.S. military assistance.
"I had the opportunity to (say) again, to mention again, that the U.S. support is critical to our operations and its reduction would severely limit our effectiveness against terrorists," Parly said at a joint news conference, standing alongside U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Esper, who is spearheading the review, said no decisions had been made. But he did not suggest any reconsideration of potential cuts to U.S. forces in the region.