A military exercise, involving 1,000 defence and security forces from 18 countries, including France and the US, began Thursday in Niger's regions of Agadez, Tahoua (north) and Diffa (east), PANA reported from here.
The exercise, which will last till 9 March, will focus mainly on the fight against terrorism in the Sahel.
First launched in 2005, the military exercise is designed to facilitate capacity-building in the defence and security forces of member nations while enhancing collaboration among them.
Kicking off the exercise, the Nigerien Army chief, Gen. Seïni Garba, said the Sahel region was facing strong security challenges because of terrorism, trans-border crime and organized crime, which he said, were slowing down socio-economic development in the area.
He said there was the need to strengthen the efforts of countries, apart from those involved individually in the exercise.