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France Names Mideast Expert to Head External Spy Agency

Wednesday, 10 Apr 2013 10:40 AM

PARIS — Bernard Bajolet, a career diplomat with a history of postings in the Arab world, was nominated on Tuesday as the new head of France's DGSE external intelligence agency.

His appointment was announced with France starting to withdraw troops from Mali after an operation to oust Islamist militants and debating whether to deliver arms to Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

Bajolet, who was most recently overseeing France's military pullout from Afghanistan as ambassador there, was named by President Francois Hollande to replace Erard Corbin de Mangoux.

De Mangoux, who was close to former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy, was criticized for his handling of an operation to rescue a DGSE officer taken hostage by Somali militant group Al Shabaab. The mission ended with the deaths of Denis Allex and two other DGSE officers.

Bajolet, 63, previously served in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Bosnia, as was also a deputy director for the Middle East at the foreign ministry.

He will be charged with ensuring the 5,000-strong DGSE maintains its capacity to protect French interests abroad ahead of a strategic review of the country's defense spending that will bring sharp budget cuts.

Under Sarkozy, Bajolet was put in charge of a new government body overseeing the country's various intelligence agencies. As an adviser at the French embassy in Algeria in 1978, he welcomed a young Hollande as a trainee.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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Bernard Bajolet, a career diplomat with a history of postings in the Arab world, was nominated on Tuesday as the new head of France's DGSE external intelligence agency.
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2013-40-10
Wednesday, 10 Apr 2013 10:40 AM
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