French president reassures soldiers fighting in Niger

French President Emmanuel Macron has held a holiday dinner for soldiers fighting against extremism in Niger, reassuring them that France will not abandon the region to extremists.

In a trip that started Friday, Macron wants to encourage Niger's growing military efforts to fight terrorism in West Africa. France has thousands of troops there in its largest overseas military operation and wants African forces to take a more prominent role. He has thrown his support behind a G-5 Sahel force of African troops newly set up in the region.

Macron brought the chef from the Elysee presidential palace who oversaw a meal Friday for about 500 French troops in addition to American, Canadian and German forces.

The president also encouraged development and diplomacy, emphasizing that the military response isn't the only answer.