The Pentagon and leaders of Niger jointly state they’ve agreed to carry out the withdrawal, which has already begun © X / @NIGER_CNSP

The US will withdraw its forces from Niger no later than mid-September, the Pentagon and the West African nation’s defense ministry said in a joint statement on Sunday.

The decision was reached following talks between US and Nigerien officials in Niamey, according to the statement posted on X (formerly Twitter) by the military government.

“The Ministry of National Defense of Niger and the United States Department of Defense have reached a disengagement agreement to carry out the withdrawal of American forces, which has already begun. It is therefore agreed that this disengagement will end no later than September 15, 2024,” it announced.

Washington has relied on Niger as a crucial location for counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region, including monitoring the activities of jihadist groups.

However, in March, the landlocked state’s military authorities, who took power in a coup last July, terminated the defense agreement that, for over a decade, had allowed 1,000 American soldiers and civilian contractors to operate in the country.

The Nigerien government, which has turned to Russia for security assistance after also cutting military ties with former colonial power France in December, has accused the US of attempting to dictate who Niger’s allies should be.

Niger’s prime minister, Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, said Pentagon officials had threatened the imposition of sanctions on Niamey if it pursued a deal to sell uranium to Iran. They also warned Niger against developing relations with Russia if it wanted to retain the US as a security partner, according to Zeine.

Relations between the US and Niger began deteriorating after the West-African state’s pro-Western leader, Mohamed Bazoum, was ousted ten months ago.

In response to the coup, Washington halted aid to Niamey, including military support for the national army, but insisted on keeping its troops in the African country, where it had built a $100-million military base in 2016.

African state reveals why it canceled defense deal with Washington African state reveals why it canceled defense deal with Washington

Last week, Prime Minister Zeine told the Washington Post that authorities in Niamey were “bewildered” that the US insisted on maintaining a military presence in the country while “doing nothing” to protect Nigeriens from terrorist attacks.

However, on Sunday, Niger’s defense ministry and the US Department of Defense commended the “joint sacrifices of the Nigerien and American forces in the fight against terrorism.”

“The withdrawal of American forces from Niger in no way affects the pursuit of relations between the United States and Niger in the field of development. Also, Niger and the United States are committed to an ongoing diplomatic dialogue to define the future of their bilateral relations,” according to their statement. (RT)