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UN chief hails int'l aid to Mali


10:48, January 15, 2013

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Monday hailed countries for providing assistance to Mali in its fight against armed and terrorist groups, at a time when international community is grouping an assistant mission to the West African country.

Ban welcomed that "bilateral partners are responding, at the request and with the consent of the government of Mali, to its call for assistance to counter the troubling push southward by armed and terrorist groups," said a statement issued here by a spokesperson of the UN chief.

On Saturday, Ban spoke with Alassane Ouattara, president of Cote d'Ivoire and chair of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on the plans of several of its member states to deploy military forces, the statement said.

The UN chief hoped "these actions will help to arrest the latest offensive while efforts continue to fully implement Security Council Resolution 2085," which was aimed at the full restoration of Mali's constitutional order and territorial integrity, said the statement.

"These latest events underscore the urgency of implementing all aspects of the resolution, including support to ECOWAS mediation efforts, the development of a consensual roadmap for the transition and provision of support to... the Malian defense forces," the statement added.

Ban also spoke on Sunday with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who informed him on the ongoing French military operations in Mali.

French President Francois Hollande on Friday announced that French forces have launched military intervention in Mali to support government forces in countering the offensives from Islamist rebels, who had seized the central town of Konna and threatened southern Mali, including the capital of Bamako.

The military intervention plan was drawn up out of fear that northern Mali could become a safe haven for terrorism and drug and human trafficking.

Preparations are continuing "for the deployment soon of a UN multi-disciplinary team to Bamako to carry forward the UN's support requested by the Malian authorities, including on both the political and security process," said the statement.

In addition, UN Special Envoy for West Africa Said Djinnit continues his consultations in the sub-region as part of efforts to speed up implementation of the Security Council resolution 2085 by meeting with some figures including the president of the ECOWAS Commission on Monday.

An ECOWAS summit is planned in Abuja on January 19 pending a joint action in northern Mali, according to the statement.

Fighting raged in the past days after the Malian government and rebels failed to reach any deal in talks on a solution to the country's crisis. The clash is the latest since the rebels occupied the north in the aftermath of a military coup on March 22, 2012.

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