U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the United States is still “very focused on diplomacy” as the tool to solve the ongoing political crisis in Niger resulting from an attempted coup by a junta.
“We remain very focused on diplomacy for achieving the results that we want, which is the return to the constitutional order,” Blinken told reporters during a press briefing at the State Department, adding that he believed there continues to be space for diplomacy in achieving that result.
Blinken’s remarks came at a time when tensions continued to build up in and around the west African nation. A regional bloc announced on Thursday the activation and deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger.
The decision was made by the presidents and senior officials of member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as they concluded a summit meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, to address the situation in Niger.
Blinken said the United States still considers it “imperative” that the coup leaders in Niger release the country’s ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, and his family from detention, and that Niger should return to constitutional order.
To that end, the United States is “in strong support of what ECOWAS is doing,” he said.
As for whether Washington would support the use of force threatened by ECOWAS, Blinken said he would not “get ahead of where we are now or get into any hypotheticals about what may happen in the future.”