A Russian delegation meets with the interim president of Mali FILE PHOTO: Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov at the Kremlin in Moscow on September 28, 2023. © Mikhail Metzel / POOL / AFP

A Russian delegation was welcomed to the presidential residence in Mali over the weekend, for talks focusing on energy and transport ties, as Moscow seeks to bolster relations with Africa’s Sahel region.

According to the Alliance of Sahel States – comprising Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso – the delegation led by Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov met with Mali’s interim President Assimi Goita at the Koulouba Palace in Bamako on Saturday.

The statement did not give details, merely saying the sides had discussed “opportunities to strengthen cooperation.”

According to Mali’s Finance Minister Alousséni Sanou, the meeting addressed energy ties and the creation of an airline that would operate routes between Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

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Yevkurov’s trip follows on from his visit to Mali in September, focusing on defense cooperation between Moscow and Bamako, and overall security in the Sahel region.

Last month, the two countries signed memorandums on cooperation in renewable energy, nuclear power, medicine, civil aviation, oil, agriculture, railway construction and coal mining.

Mali’s military government has set energy as a core priority, in a country where almost half the population has no access to electricity.

The Russian delegation will remain in Mali for two weeks to explore joint energy projects, while Deputy Defense Minister Yevkurov continues his Africa tour.

On Sunday, the official arrived in Niamey, the capital of Niger, according to the Sahel Alliance. It is his first visit to the West African nation since the July coup. (RT)