Nuland Says US Held 'Frank And Difficult' Talks In Niamey With Nigerien Coup Leaders

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 08th August, 2023) Acting US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told reporters she was in Niger and met with several military leaders who are attempting to take control of the country.

"We met with the self-proclaimed chief of defense of this operation, General (Moussa Salaou) Barmou, and three of the colonels supporting him," Nuland said during a teleconference on Monday. "I will say that these conversations were extremely frank and at times quite difficult because, again, we were pushing for a negotiated solution. It was not easy to get traction there."

Niger's military leaders are quite firm in their view on how they want to proceed, and it does not comport with the constitution of Niger, Nuland added.

The US delegation, Nuland said, was frank about what's at stake for the country if power is not returned to Niger's president Mohamed Bazoum, but Washington is keeping open the door to diplomacy.

Moreover, Nuland pointed out that they made multiple requests for an opportunity to meet directly with Bazoum, who is detained by the military coup leaders, but it was never granted.

The US delegation was also not granted an opportunity to see Niger's self-proclaimed president Abdourahamane Tiani, Nuland added.

Nuland said she also raised matters concerning the Wagner private military company. Nuland said she got the sense the military leaders understood "very well the risks to their sovereignty when Wagner is invited in."

In addition, Nuland said Barmou is somebody who has worked very closely with US Special Forces over many years, so they were able to go through in considerable detail the risks to aspects of cooperation between the United States and Niger.

On July 26, Niger's presidential guard ousted and detained Bazoum. Tchiani proclaimed himself the president of the caretaker Nigerien National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland-led government.

On July 31, the Economic Community of West African States condemned the coup, suspended financial aid to the country, and gave Niger's coup leaders one week to reinstate the detained president, or the community would use "all measures," including military, to restore order in the African nation.

The military governments of Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger's neighbors, warned that any military intervention against Niger would be considered a declaration of war against them.