German Chancellor Angela Merkel's first stop in Africa is Mali, where she held talks with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. On her three-day official trip, the German leader will also visit Niger and Ethiopia.
Merkel is the first German chancellor to visit Mali, where more than 550 German soldiers are stationed to battle the Islamist insurgents in the north. France, the African nation's former colonial power, helped local troops push back the militants in 2013, but armed militias still operate in the area.
The battle against terrorism is also expected to feature in Merkel's talks with the leaders of all three countries.
Economic support to curb migrant flow
Merkel will discuss investment opportunities and the need for economic stability in Africa to stem migration to Europe.
"I believe we must take a far greater interest in Africa's destiny," Merkel said in her weekly video podcast Saturday.
"The wellbeing of Africa is in Germany's interest," she said, adding that the continent would be the focus of her country's upcoming G-20 presidency.
The German chancellor is seeking better conditions for private investment in Africa, as she believes that "state support alone cannot advance the development of an entire continent."
Germany recorded the arrival of over 890,000 migrants last year. Most of these refugees are from the war-ravaged countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, while many also fled economic hardships across the African continent.
The German government wants a similar refugee deal with North African countries as the EU struck earlier this year with Turkey to curb the flow of migrants to Europe.
Next week, Merkel will host Chadian President Idriss Deby and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari.
shs/rc (Dpa, AP, AFP)