Hollande tells Africa to ensure own security, offers training
French President Francois Hollande told some 40 African leaders at a Paris summit Friday that the continent must "ensure its own security" in order to "take charge of its destiny".
He also promised that France would help with the potential creation of a special African rapid reaction force and would train up to 20,000 soldiers each year.
"France is ready to lend its full support to this force" by participating in training, Hollande said at the start of the summit.
The meeting -- which focuses on security on the continent and a military offensive in the Central African Republic -- opened Friday under the cloud of Nelson Mandela's death.
Hollande kicked off the summit with a tribute to Mandela, who died Thursday aged 95, followed by South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who urged leaders to continue Mandela's work for peace and security on the continent.
After leaders observed a minute's silence for the peace icon, Hollande once again took to the stage with his pledge for help.
He highlighted that African forces had in the past been able to take action in some countries, pointing for instance to the African Union's current mission in Somalia.
"And at the same time, everyone knows that there are inadequacies, shortcomings, weaknesses and there is a need to prepare African forces to respond to any threat and to be able to acquire essential means to ensure the security of Africans," he said.
Hollande added that Europe and Africa must stand together to fight threats such as terrorism.
© 2013 AFP