Besides the leaders of the five-nation force, delegations representing Europe, the African Union and international organizations were in attendance Wednesday. The G5 force is expected to grow into a 5,000-strong army by March but needs soldiers, training, operational autonomy and funding. He has taken the lead in persuading partners to help make it viable, arguing that the fate of the Sahel region affects Europe. The budget to launch the force is 250 million euros ($293 million), with 400 million euros ($470 million) needed down the road, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on RFI radio. French officials estimate that the extremists in the Sahel region number no more than 1,000, compared to several thousand in northern Mali in 2013, when France intervened.