Paris, Mar 10: France and Japan will discuss possible cooperation in tackling jihadist groups in Africa during a ministerial visit this week, focusing on securing borders in the troubled Sahel region, a diplomatic source said.
"The idea is that we can perhaps work on a joint initiative around the borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso as part of the fight against cross-border threats, notably the terrorist threat," the French source said on condition of anonymity.
France's foreign and defence ministers, Laurent Fabius and Jean-Yves Le Drian, are travelling to Japan on Thursday for wide-ranging talks to include discussions on a "Plan of Action for Africa" which has been in the pipeline for several months. The plan also touches on counter-piracy missions, building on their current cooperation in Djibouti with possible expansion into the Gulf of Guinea, the source said.
It also envisages greater cooperation on peacekeeping missions, sustainable development and healthcare, including reconstruction in the wake of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa. In addition, France and Japan are expected to sign an agreement on defence industry cooperation, which will act as a base for specific tie-ups in the future.
A French delegation will also take part in the Disaster Risk Relief meeting in Sendei on Saturday, as part of the build-up to the global climate conference being hosted by Paris in December. A strategic dialogue came into force between France and Japan in January 2014, leading to frequent high-level visits on political, security and economic issues.