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Obama backs France in battle against extremists

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Obama backs France in battle against extremists
File photo: President Fran├žois Hollande meets his US counterpart Barack Obama in Chicago last year. Jim Watson AFP
10:22 CET+01:00
US President Barack Obama voiced support Friday for France's military intervention in Mali and vowed to work with French counterpart Francois Hollande to tackle extremism across North Africa.

The two presidents discussed other "shared security concerns," including Algeria, Libya and Syria, during telephone talks, the White House said in a statement.

"The president expressed his support for France's leadership of the international community's efforts to deny terrorists a safe haven in Mali," it added. Hollande thanked Obama for his "significant support" of the effort.

The US Air Force has deployed C-17 cargo planes to ferry French troops and equipment to northern Mali, where they are trying to help flush out radical Islamist fighters.

The United States also was providing intelligence to Paris, drawing on its network of satellites and surveillance drones.

Paris has asked Washington help with refueling its warplanes taking part in the fight against militant fighters in Mali, but Obama's administration has yet to approve the request.

Obama and Hollande also "emphasized the need to rapidly establish" both an African-led military force in Mali and a "political roadmap that will lead to elections and restoration of democratic governance," the White House said.

The pair "condemned last week's terrorist act in Algeria," referring to the deadly hostage-taking at a natural gas plant, and "affirmed their mutual commitment to countering terrorism more broadly in North Africa."

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