Tuesday Oct 23, 201209:10 AM GMT
US, France mull taking drone war to Mali
A French Harfang drone (file photo)
A French Harfang drone (file photo)
Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:35AM
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The military officials of France and the US have reportedly held secret talks in Paris to discuss a plan to move French surveillance drones from Afghanistan to the crisis-hit African country of Mali.


American and French officials met in Paris last week to draw a plan for military intervention in Mali by moving the unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to the African country, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Last Friday, African leaders had met in the Malian capital, Bamako, to discuss a plan for a military intervention in the north, which was seized under the cover of a coup d'etat six months ago.

On October 13, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that gave West African nations 45 days to offer details of a plan for a military intervention in Mali.

“France and the United Nations insist any invasion of Mali's north must be led by African troops,” the AP report claimed, adding that Paris, however, “is playing an increasing role behind the scenes.”

A French defense official said on the condition of anonymity on Monday that his country is considering a plan to send two more surveillance drones to western Africa from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Reports say France has deployed its special forces to the region around Mali as well.

Meanwhile, a group of top American military officials and diplomats, including US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, arrived in Paris on Monday to hold talks on intelligence-gathering and security in the Sahel region, including Mali.

Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was ousted in a military coup on March 22. The coup leaders said the president had failed to fight the separatist movement of Tuareg rebels in the north.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned against a military operation, saying it would further affect millions of people in the region.

Once a detailed plan for military intervention in Mali is received from the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the United Nations, the Security Council would consider a second resolution to approve the move.

DB/MFB/HJL
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