Official: US may set up drone base in Niger

WASHINGTON - A U.S. military official says the Pentagon is considering setting up a drone base in northwest Africa to increase intelligence collection on Islamic militants in the region.

The official says the U.S. signed an agreement Monday that would set the rules for greater American military presence in the nation of Niger, which would be the most likely location for any new drone base. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decision has been made.

Americans are already in Niger, training local forces. But a greater presence and a drone operation there would position the U.S. to provide more help to French and Malian troops fighting al-Qaida-backed fighters in neighboring Mali.

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