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France gets UN support for military intervention in Mali

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 15 (KUNA) -- France late Monday said it got the support of the Security Council members and that of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the military intervention it began last Friday in Mali to defeat the terrorist groups that drove southward in the last few days taking control of key towns on their way to the capital Bamako.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters following a closed meeting of the Council, late on Monday, that he briefed the members in "total transparency" about the latest developments in Mali and that "all the members of the Security Council expressed their support and their understanding of the French decision" to launch the military intervention last Thursday to dislodge terrorist groups from the north of Mali.
"All the members of the Security Council have recognized that we were acting in perfect international legality, on the basis of the UN Charter and upon the request of the Malian authorities," he added.
He insisted that "our political priority has not changed: it is the quick implementation of resolution 2085 in all its dimensions, especially through the immediate deployment of the African forces," adding that these forces are going to be deployed in the coming days or weeks.
He also insisted that the real solution will be a political one. "We want to support a political process in Bamako and also the reconciliation between Malians of the North and the South, the negotiations with the armed groups who dissociate themselves from terrorism." France began its air offensive on Friday after the armed groups overran the town of Konna, which had been on the de facto dividing line between those areas under Government control and those already occupied by the rebels.
Malian rebel soldiers overthrew the government last March and took control of the north of the country. They were soon controlled by Al-Qaida-related groups which began to impose the strict Shari'a law in the area. They want to expand their control all over the West African country.
Ban, who had a "long conversation" with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday, also expressed his support to France. He welcomed the response of "bilateral partners" to the plea for assistance from the Government of Mali to counter the "troubling push" southward by Al-Qaida-related armed groups.
"The Secretary-General hopes these (French) actions will help to arrest the latest offensive while efforts continue to fully implement Security Council Resolution 2085 aimed at the full restoration of Mali's constitutional order and territorial integrity," his press office said in a statement.
Ban stressed that the latest events underscore the urgency of implementing all aspects of resolution 2085, including support for Malian defence forces and the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), which the Council authorized in that resolution.
He noted that preparations are also continuing for the deployment "soon" of a UN multidisciplinary team to Bamako to carry forward the UN's support requested by the Malian authorities, including on both the political and security process. The renewed clashes in the north, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region following the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, drought and political instability have uprooted hundreds of thousands of civilians in Mali. Over 412,000 people have been forced to flee the north, and an estimated five million people have been affected by the conflict. (end) sj.rk KUNA 150908 Jan 13NNNN