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Russia supports UN involvement in Mali crisis: envoy


15:42, January 17, 2013

MOSCOW, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Moscow backs the international efforts to help Mali solve its ongoing crisis, Russia's presidential envoy for Africa said Wednesday.

Speaking to the Russia Today TV channel, Mikhail Margelov said Moscow will take an active part in discussing the Mali conflict in the UN Security Council and support the joint UN-African Union operation in the region.

"We used to believe and still believe that the people of Mali should receive a legitimate support, and there should be anti-radical, anti-terrorist operation under the UN and African Union auspices," Margelov said.

He added that the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the international community as a whole must assist the African countries in settling their problems, including security ones.

According to Margelov, Russia has "enormous" economic interests in Mali, and so does France.

"This is actually one of the reasons why Mali has attracted international attention, and why the topic of stability and security in Mali has been so high in agenda," said the diplomat.

Fighting erupted in early 2013 after the Malian government and Ansar Dine, an Islamist group that wants imposition of strict Sharia law across the country, failed to reach a deal to resolve the crisis in Mali.

France, which has already poured 800 soldiers into the West African country and been carrying out airstrikes in the rebel-held northern half of Mali, said Tuesday that it planned to increase the number to 2,500.

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