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Algeria says opening airspace to French jet fighters sovereign decision


14:22, January 15, 2013

ALGIERS, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Algeria said Monday that opening its airspace to French military jet fighters to reach Mali and target extremist militants there is a sovereign decision.

"The decision related to opening the national airspace has always been sovereign decision of Algeria," according to the local TSA news website, which quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Amar Belani.

Belani said Algeria examined the French overflying request "in accordance with the procedure in force."

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Algeria had opened its airspace for French jet planes as part of the military operation underway against extremist armed groups in northern Mali.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said Friday that the intervention of his country in Mali was at the request of interim President of Mali Dioncounda Traore.

Hollande said that taking action in Mali aims at protecting some 6,000 French nationals there, noting that seven nationals had been abducted.

Rebels including MUJAO, AQIM, Ansar Dine and the MNLA occupied Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in the aftermath of a military coup on March 22 of last year.

Late last year, the UN Security Council agreed to authorize an African-led international military intervention to support Mali in its fight against terrorists, and approved an intervention plan submitted by the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore Mali's territorial integrity and constitutional rule.

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