The leaders of Mali and Burkina Faso’s juntas have agreed to strengthen their military partnership in a meeting in Bamako, the Burkinabe presidency said in a statement sent to AFP Sunday.

On a “friendly visit” Saturday by Burkina’s Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba to the Malian capital — his first foreign trip since seizing power in January — he and Colonel Assimi Goita agreed to “better examine and strengthen” their military partnership.

“The two countries… intend to pool their efforts in the fight against terrorism,” the statement said.

The Malian presidency confirmed the news in a separate statement.

A decade-long jihadist insurgency that began in northern Mali and later extended across the country and to Burkina Faso and Niger has claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than two million people across the three countries, according to official estimates.

Mali earlier this year pulled out of the regional G5 Sahel military force to fight the insurgents that also included Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad.

In late August, Burkina Faso and Niger urged Mali to reconsider.

The same month, France withdrew its last troops from the long-running Barkhane mission in Mali.

Damiba and Goita also discussed the contingent of Ivorian soldiers currently detained in Mali accused of being mercenaries, the Burkinabe presidency said.

On Saturday, Mali released three women among 49 soldiers held since July.

Damiba declined to comment publicly on the dispute. He is expected Monday in Abidjan.

Goita seized power in Mali in August 2020, then installed an interim government led by civilians. He deposed those leaders in May 2021 and was later sworn in as interim president.

In Burkina, Damiba overthrew President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in late January, accusing him of having been unable to curb the jihadist violence.

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