Clinton urges Algeria to back Mali intervention
US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton yesterday pressed regional power Algeria to support an African-led military intervention in northern Mali.
Ms Clinton’s one-day visit to Algiers came amid mounting international pressure on Algeria over the crisis in Mali, where a March military coup was followed by a revolt that has seen Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants, some linked to al-Qaeda, seize control of the northern two-thirds of the country.
A senior US official said after the talks with president Abdelaziz Bouteflika that Ms Clinton had argued strongly that counter-terror efforts in Mali could not wait for a political resolution to Mali’s problems.
Africa’s biggest country, and a major oil and gas exporter, Algeria shares a 1,250-mile border with Mali and sees itself as the key regional power, wary of any outside interference.
It fears military action in Mali could push al-Qaeda militants back into southern Algeria and trigger a refugee and political crisis.
It would be diplomatically risky for African states backed by western powers to intervene in Mali without Algiers consent, especially as the conflict could drag on for many months.
Ms Clinton’s visit to Algiers followed a high-level meeting in the Malian capital Bamako on 19 October that brought regional and international players to the negotiating table, and after which French and Algerian sources said Algeria had “tacitly” agreed to intervention.
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