Macron's first non-Europe trip focuses on fighting extremism

FILE-- In this photo taken Sunday Feb. 10, 2013, French soldiers secure the area where a suicide bomber exploded at the entrance of Gao

French President Emmanuel Macron,right , and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe leave after a family photo following the first cabinet mee

French Chieff of Staff Gen. Pierre de Villiers arrives at the Elysee Palace, Thursday, May 18, 2017 in Paris as French President Emmanu

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — On his first official trip outside Europe, new French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a scheduled visit to French-led military forces combatting jihadist groups in West Africa.

During Friday's trip to Mali, Macron will be briefed on the inner workings of Operation Barkhane. It is France's largest overseas military mission, with more than 4,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. He is expected to visit a French base in the eastern city of Gao.

Macron repeatedly pledged ahead of his May 7 election that fighting terror would be his priority, after multiple attacks in France since 2015 that killed more than 230 people.

Most of the West African extremist groups France is combatting trace their origins to al-Qaida's North Africa branch.