The African state says the proposal will be carefully considered to ensure the pullout occurs in compliance with deadlines © X/@NIGER_CNSP

A delegation of senior US officials presented a draft plan on Wednesday for the withdrawal of American forces from Niger, the West African nation’s military government has announced.

According to a statement on X (formerly Twitter), the group included Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense in charge of special operations and low intensity conflict, and Lieutenant General Dagvin Anderson, the director of joint force development at the US Department of Defense.

The meeting comes two months after the Nigerien authorities terminated a defense agreement that had allowed 1,000 US soldiers and civilian contractors to conduct counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region for more than a decade.

Niger’s prime minister, Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, has cited alleged threats from Pentagon officials as the reason for Niamey’s decision to cut military ties with the US.

The prime minister told the Washington Post in an interview published on Tuesday that a senior US delegation, including Molly Phee, the State Department’s top official for African affairs, who was in Niamey in March to negotiate the renewal of the security pact, attempted to dictate which countries should be Niger’s partners.

Phee also warned the Sahel state against developing relations with Russia if it wanted to maintain the US as a security partner, while also threatening sanctions should Niamey pursue a deal to sell uranium to Iran, Zeine added.

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

Relations between the US and Niger have been strained since the military regime seized power in a coup last July.

Washington joined France and other EU allies in suspending aid to Niamey, including reducing military support for the country’s army. However, it had insisted on keeping its troops, which is critical to its counterterrorism mission in the Sahel.

The Pentagon announced last month that it would withdraw troops stationed at Niger Air Base 201, a $100 million facility built in 2016, as requested by the landlocked state.

On Wednesday, Niger’s new leadership described their decision to scrap the defense deal with Washington as a “historic” move.

The government said Washington’s proposed withdrawal plan will be a “subject of in-depth discussions with Nigerien military experts, in order to ensure that this withdrawal takes place in the best possible conditions, guaranteeing order, security, and compliance with set deadlines.”

In December, former colonial power France withdrew its troops from the Sahel country, following an order to leave due to alleged aggression towards the new military authorities and the forces’ inability to combat jihadist insurgents. (RT)