France criticizes U.S. travel ban on Chadian ally, urges reversal

PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Wednesday it was surprised by new U.S. travel restrictions on citizens from Chad, which Paris said was an ally in the fight against terrorist groups, and urged the United States to quickly reverse its decision.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday imposed a new ban on citizens from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad, expanding to eight the list of countries covered by his original travel bans that have been derided by critics and challenged in court.

“We learnt with surprise of the United States’ decision to expand its entry ban on Chadian citizens,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne said.

“Chad is a decisive partner in the fight against terrorism. It has mobilized from the start and paid a heavy price in this battle.”

France considers its former colony as its main ally in the fight against Islamist militants in West Africa and the headquarters of its 4,000-strong counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane force is in the Chadian capital N’djamena. The United States also has a base in the city.

“France hopes that with this in mind the United States and Chad...will find a quick solution that will enable this ban to be lifted,” Romatet-Espagne said.

Reporting by John Irish