France reiterates its position:
“It is not for France to take the military initiative in Mali,” [Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian] told journalists during a visit to Lorient in northwest France.
France, he said, “wants it to be the African forces, in particular those of ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) and possibly the African Union, that take the initiative,” he said.
He said an African military intervention in northern Mali was “desirable and inevitable.”
“France will support it and, I hope, the European Union also.”
Morocco supports a political solution to the crisis in Mali but the regional community will have to consider “other options” if diplomacy fails, the foreign minister said in a newspaper interview.
The kingdom is encouraging its allies in the UN Security Council to find a political solution to the crisis in northern Mali, Youssef El Amrani told Le Matin in comments to be published on Tuesday.
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Monday ruled out sending troops to Mali, where the embattled government has lost control of the north to Al-Qaeda-linked militias.
“There will be no Mauritanian military intervention in Mali,” he said overnight at a local forum in the northern town of Atar marking the third anniversary of his rise to power.
“The problem there is very complex and we don’t have the solution,” he said, adding however that his country, which borders Mali, would take part in the international community’s efforts to restore peace.
Sahel-based journalist Hannah Armstrong calls Abdel Aziz’s words “doublespeak.” Mauritania has sent soldiers into northern Mali in the past in pursuit of fighters from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Two related items:
- For those who read Arabic, Magharebia reports on how insecurity along the Mauritanian-Malian border has hurt trade in the area.
- BBC Hausa reports on a recent meeting of Sahelian foreign ministers in Niger, where the ministers discussed the crisis in Mali. I have not found any other reports on this meeting, though.