Dialogue vital for Mali's north, says France's Juppé
France’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé continued his African tour on Sunday with a visit to Mali. There, he met with President Amadou Toumani Toure on the crisis in the northern part of the country, which has been plagued by clashes between the army and Tuareg rebels. The group continues to hold six French nationals hostages since last year.
Amidst talks with Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré on Saturday evening, Juppé called for an end to fighting between rebels and the military in Mali, in order to engage instead in dialogue.
Juppé said that his talks with Mali’s President on Sunday would centre around finding solutions to the unstable north.
The clashes have forced 126,400 people to flee their homes since mid-January, said the United Nations on Friday. More than 60,000 people have been displaced internally by the conflict, with an estimated 65,000 seeking refuge in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Algeria.
Taureg rebels continue to deny links to Al-Qaeda’s north African branch, despite allegations. The group is demanding autonomy in the northern part of the country.
As part of his African tour, Juppé met with Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi on Saturday to discuss the woes of the African continent, then headed to Burkina Faso later in the day. On Friday, Juppé was in Tunis for a meeting of world leaders on the current crisis in Syria.