Welcome news reports from the region say the delegations agreed to end hostilities.
Mali’s interim government and two of the rebel groups that took control of the northern half of the country this spring have met for the first time for talks aimed at ending the crisis.
A delegation of Malian officials and representatives of Tuareg separatists and the Islamist militant group Ansar Dine held talks in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou December 4. Welcome news reports from the region say the delegations agreed to end hostilities and hold further discussions to create an inclusive dialogue on national unity.
The West African nation was plunged into crisis in March by a military coup amid a separatist Tuareg insurgency in the vast desert region bordering Algeria and Niger.
Concerns were heightened when extremist groups linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, took advantage of the political vacuum to exert control of the northern territory, threatening the security of the broader region. Practicing an extremist ideology, alien to most Malians, the groups have destroyed ancient shrines and imposed a strict version of Islamic law.
The United States continues to work with the international community and the Malian government to address the extremist threat in northern Mali, with an African-led military response if necessary, in accordance with international law. We also continue to work with Mali’s neighbors to increase their capacity to secure their borders from the threat and contain the extremist groups.