PARIS, Oct 22 (KUNA) -- France said on Monday that if reports of a
significant influx of foreign "Jihadists" into Mali is confirmed, this would
be "a supplementary source of concern" given the planned military intervention
in that country.
The UN Security Council, after a French initiative, has authorised the
setting up of a framework for a military intervention by West African troops
to oust Islamic extremist groups from northern Mali.
The intervention would have massive "logistical" support from France and
other Western nations, from the European Union and also probably the US.
Concerning extremist or other alliances in Mali, French officials said they
had no information that Algerian-backed "Sahrawi" militants in Western Sahara,
which is controlled by Morocco, were joining the radical groups in Mali and
had formed an alliance with them.
"We share the same objectives with our Algerian partners: a national
political dialogue, the restoration of the territorial integrity of Mali, and
the fight against terrorism," a Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot
said in answer to questions.
The official announced separately that France had decided to renew its
military cooperation agreements with Mali, which were suspended several months
ago after a military coup in that country.
The agreements are seen as vital if France is to help equip and train the
Malian component of the West Africa (ECOWAS) intervention force, which should
number around 3,400 men from several nations.
These forces, however, are viewed by diplomats here as "underequipped and
undertrained" and in need of motivation.
A second UN Security Council resolution, authorising military action under
Chapter VII of the UN Charter, is expected in around a month and operations
could begin shortly afterwards.
One of the leading radical groups, Al-Qaeda for an Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is
holding six French hostages and a number of others and says it will execute
them if there is a French-inspired military intervention against them.
AQIM has also threatened French President Francois Hollande, who has been
instrumental in drumming up international support for the Mali intervention.
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