TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - In a wide-ranging speech that lasted nearly two hours, Macron proposed a crackdown on human smuggling networks between Africa and Europe.
The 39-year-old French leader also emphasized his youth, referring to himself as the child of "a generation that has never known Africa as a colonized continent." He engaged in a lively series of questions with students afterward.
Migrants from throughout West Africa journey to Libya in hopes of making the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean to Europe. Video footage broadcast on CNN this month showed the auction and sale of migrant men as slaves in the North African nation, prompting widespread outrage.
Macron said he wants "Africa and Europe to help populations trapped in Libya by providing massive support to the evacuation of endangered people." He did not elaborate, saying he will formally detail his proposal at a summit of the European Union and the African Union in Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
Already Burkina Faso's foreign affairs minister has recalled his ambassador from Libya, calling it "unacceptable to have slaves in this 21st century."
In his first major Africa address at the University of Ouagadougou, Macron sought to refocus the France-Africa dynamic away from a colonial past. However, he stressed the "undeniable crimes of European colonization."
Macron also said he wants conditions to be met in five years so that pieces of African cultural heritage can return to African museums "temporarily or definitively," saying that "I cannot accept that a large part of African heritage is in France."
The French leader also referred to his comments that prompted controversy in July, when he suggested that it's a problem when African women have "seven or eight children."
He said Tuesday that "I want a young girl to have the choice not to have children at the age of 13" and that "When you see families of six, seven, eight children per woman, are you sure it's a choice from the girl?"
After Macron's visit to Ivory Coast for the summit he will make a stop in Ghana before returning to France.