Berlin (dpa) – Chancellor Angela Merkel departed Germany on Wednesday for Burkina Faso, where she is to begin a three-day tour of West Africa. Merkel is expected to arrive in the capital Ouagadougou in the evening, where she will be greeted by President Roch Marc Kabore. A regional summit of the so-called G5 Sahel is also planned. Mali and Niger – the other two stops on her tour – are members of the group, as well as Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad. Leaders at the meeting are expected to discuss how G5 anti-terrorism forces can work more efficiently in the troubled region. Observers say that the troops, which are to comprise 5,000 soldiers, still have a lot of work to do to establish themselves.
On Thursday, Merkel is scheduled to visit German soldiers stationed in Gao in northern Mali. The chancellor is seeking to illustrate German support for the democratically elected governments of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger as they face terrorist threats, ethnic conflicts and instability. The European Union and Germany have taken a particular interest in improving the situation in West Africa, since conflict and poverty there are main drivers in migration to Europe.