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West Africans give cool response to France's Fabius on Mali force

media Senegal's President Macky Sall welcomes Laurent Fabius to Dakar on Saturday Reuters/Joe Penney

West African countries have given an unenthusiastic response to Laurent Fabius’s calls to take part in a military intervention in Mali during the French foreign affairs minister’s 48-hour tour of four French-speaking countries that ended in Chad on Sunday.

Only Niger, which feels it is most under threat from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), is keen to see a speedy intervention by the proposed west African force in north Mali, RFI’s French service reports.

The Ecowas group of west African countries is supposed to be preparing to send 3,000 troops to fight the Aqim-linked Ansar Dine and other Islamist groups, who have took control of the territory’s main cities, Gao and Timbiktu, after Tuareg separatists declared independence.

In Chad at the end of his tour on Saturday, Fabius claimed that President Idriss Déby had made a “very severe” analysis of the situation when they discussed Mali.

Déby “noted that the development of terrorism in this region constitutes a threat for all the countries in the area”, he said after meeting the Chadian president.

But Déby made a point of calling for an “international force … with the support of the United Sates, France and Nato”, insisting that “we don’t have the means in Africa to deal with this situation”.

Earlier, in Senegal, Fabius declared that “it is up to the Malians and the Africans to take the necessary decisions with the backing of the international community”.

Senegal and Burkina Faso are still trying to find a diplomatic solution, RFI’s correspondents report, with Ouagadougou holding talks both with the Tuareg separatist MNLA and Ansar Dine.

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