FILE PHOTO - Marine Le Pen, France's National Front political party head, is seen attending a joint news conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File photo(reuters_tickers)
N'DJAMENA/PARIS (Reuters) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen will meet Chad's President Idriss Deby on Tuesday as she looks to bolster her foreign policy credentials with a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants, her National Front party said.
Le Pen, among the frontrunners in the French presidential election, travelled to Lebanon in February to get a sense of the Syrian crisis and is using the two-day visit to meet French troops stationed in Chad and outline her policies for Africa.
"She will be meeting President Deby with whom she will discuss the sensitive situation in this part of Africa," the party said in a statement.
"She will make a speech outlining her vision for future Franco-African relations."
Chad has one of the region's most capable militaries and hosts the headquarters of France's 4,000-strong West African anti-militant operation, known as Barkhane.
"Marine Le Pen has arrived in N’Djamena and is continuing to Amdjarass about 900 kilometres to the east where she will be received this afternoon at her initiative by President Deby,” a spokesman for the Chadian president said.
Among her foreign policy objectives Le Pen has called for closer cooperation in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad and a rapprochement with Russian leader Valdimir Putin
She also wants to increase the defence budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2018, up from about 1.78 percent now, and 3 percent by 2022.
(Reporting by Madjiasra Nako in N’Djamena and John Irish in Paris, editing by Ed Osmond)