German Chancellor Scholz begins his trip to Africa in Senegal | Radio WGN 720

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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz began a trip to three countries in Africa on Sunday, a visit that is expected to include talks with African leaders on the geopolitical consequences of the war in Ukraine.

Scholz is making stops in Senegal and South Africa in his first visit to the continent since becoming chancellor nearly six months ago.

Both countries have been invited to attend the G-7 summit in Germany at the end of June. The participants will try to find a common position on Russia, which was expelled from the Group of Eight following its capture of Crimea by Ukraine in 2014.

The leaders of the G-7 summit will also address the threat of climate change. Several G-7 countries, including Germany and the United States, signed a “just energy transition partnership” with South Africa last year to help the country wean itself off highly polluting coal.

A similar agreement is underway with Senegal, where Germany has supported the construction of a solar park. Berlin is also interested in access to a large gas field currently being explored in the country.

German officials also said Scholz would make a stopover in Niger, a country that, like its neighbors, has a long history of fighting Islamic extremists.

Earlier this month, the German government backed a plan to move hundreds of its soldiers to Niger from neighboring Mali. The development comes amid a deepening political crisis in Mali that has prompted former colonial power France to announce it is withdrawing its troops after nine years of aiding Malian insurgents.

German officials said their decision was also prompted by concerns that Malian forces receiving EU training could cooperate with Russian mercenaries currently operating in the country.

Germany, however, will increase its participation in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, contributing up to 1,400 troops. Cabinet decisions still need to be approved by Parliament.

Niger is also a major transit hub for illegal migration to Europe. People from all over West Africa are connecting with smugglers there to make the journey north to attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

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Jordans reported from Berlin.

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