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France fears possible al Qaeda link with Mali junta: Juppe

(Xinhua)

13:16, April 04, 2012

PARIS, April 3 (Xinhua) -- France fears that a possible alliance may exist between Tuareg rebels who had recently staged a coup in Mali and the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Tuesday.

"Some of the rebels maybe content to control the northern territories (of Mali). Others, with AQIM, may plan to take over all of Mali, in order to create an Islamist republic," Juppe was quoted as saying by French news agency AFP.

The minister said that there were two opposing tendencies among the Tuaregs, with one of them fighting for an independent Tuareg homeland in eastern Mali, while the other fallen under the influence of AQIM.

The top French diplomat urged the UN Security Council to pass a resolution recognizing "the Islamist threat," and called for a regional response to the threat involving Algeria, Mauritania, countries of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with the support of France and the European Union (EU).

In the name of the National Committee for Redressement of Democracy and Restoration of the State (CNRDR), a group of soldiers staged a coup on March 22 in Mali and toppled the country's elected President Amadou Toumani Toure, accusing him of poorly handling the Tuareg rebels in northern Mali.

Paris had earlier condemned the coup, calling for respect for democracy and constitution to guarantee peace in the African country.

As the crisis escalated in the country, the French foreign ministry on Monday advised French expatriates to leave "temporarily" Mali due to its violent political unrest.

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