No Formal Request Made To Send Troops To Mali, Nato Says

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) said yesterday it had not been asked to help in militarily resolving the armed conflict in Mali as Burkina Faso’s president pushed for renewed talks between Islamist fighters and the Malian government.
According to Nato, no request was made for it to help West African forces in retaking control of Mali’s north. The organisation was responding to comments made on Tuesday by the African Union chairman, Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi, urging Nato to intervene.

“There has been no request or discussion on a possible role for Nato in Mali,” said a Nato official who asked not to be named.

“Nato is not involved in this crisis but the situation in northern Mali is of course of grave concern to us all. It threatens the security and stability of the country, the region and beyond,” the Nato official said.

The UN last month approved plans to send some 3,000 African troops to Mali. UN officials said they did not expect the force to be deployed before September.

President Yayi termed the Mali crisis "an international situation" which he likened to Afghanistan where Nato took command of peacekeeping force in 2003.

Mali has been cut in two since March last year, when Tuareg rebels — including Islamist fighters — seized control of cities in the arid desert north and east of the country.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, charged with mediating talks between rebels and the government, said yesterday he was confident of an imminent agreement.

“As mediator in the Mali crisis, I will be inviting the transitional government, armed rebel movements and other figures to the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou in the coming days to continue talks and reach a framework agreement,” said Compaore.
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