France backs military intervention in Mali
Published: 09 Oct 2012 11:48 GMT+02:00
France will provide logistical, political and material support for UN-backed African military intervention in Mali, President Francois Hollande promised on Tuesday.
France is pushing for a UN Security Council resolution which will authorise west African countries to establish a force capable of reclaiming control of northern Mali from Islamic radicals.
Hollande's strong statement of support for the creation of such a force was made following talks here with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who said he shared the French government's concern over the growing influence of Islamists in huge parts of north Africa.
French officials have repeatedly expressed concern that northern Mali is in danger of becoming a new Afghanistan, a breeding ground for Islamic militancy that could pose a threat to the security of western Europe.
Six French hostages are currently being held in the region by the north African branch of Al-Qaeda.
Mali's Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra last month asked the UN Security Council to sanction the creation of a military force capable of reconquering the north of the country, which has since March been under the control of Islamists who have capitalised on a political vacuum created by a military coup in the capital Bamako.
Hollande said France would present a resolution authorising the force to the Security Council "as quickly as possible."
Diplomats have cautioned that there are still major practical obstacles to overcome, including the composition, financing and military capacity of what is expected to be a force of around 3,000 troops.
"For the intervention, it is up to Africans to organise themselves to ensure it happens quickly and effectively," Hollande said. "The goal is to eradicate terrorism."