Ivory Coast urges UN force for Mali

New York – Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Charles Koffi Diby urged the UN Security Council on Monday to approve “in the coming days,” an international force to confront extremist groups in northern Mali.
At a debate in the Council over the situation in the Sahel, which neighbors Mali, Diby stressed that the region “is gradually being transformed into a sanctuary for terrorist groups”.
Deployment of the military mission is “vital”, said Diby, president of the council of ministers for the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), calling for the adoption of a resolution authorising the force.
Tuareg rebels and al-Qaeda linked Islamists seized much of northern Mali in March, taking advantage of a military coup in the capital. Western powers fear the territory could become a safe haven for militant action across the region.
While the Mali government and African and UN envoys have sought political talks with the Islamists and Tuareg rebels, African nations want quick approval of the mission so that the training of Malian forces can start in the New Year.
Most of the troops for the intervention are expected to come from Ecowas, which says it has a 3 300 strong force on standby to help the Malian military retake its territory.

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