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France watchful over reported influx of extremists into Mali
22/10/2012   |   02:56 PM | World News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
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. (end) jk.sd KUNA 221456 Oct 12NNNN
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