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Minister: more diplomacy to solve Mali conflict

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Malian police. Photo: DPA
10:54 CET+01:00
Germany's foreign minister called on Friday for political efforts to be stepped up to resolve the conflict in Mali between government forces and Islamists.

"There will not be a military solution alone to the Mali problem. Therefore political efforts must also be intensified," Guido Westerwelle said in a statement. "The discussions under African mediation must be urgently continued."

With foreign backing, Malian government forces went on the counter-attack on Friday against Islamists who control the west African country's desert north and have sparked international alarm with a push south towards the capital, Bamako.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Friday urged an "enhanced and accelerated" international response to the situation in Mali.

She also said the EU would "accelerate preparations for the deployment of a military mission to Mali to provide training and advice to the Malian forces."

EU leaders late last year approved a training mission to Mali of 400 to 500 officers to bolster the country's army.

A German defence ministry spokesman said on Friday that Berlin believed the conditions for German participation in helping train Malian troops had not yet been met. And the ministry denied media reports that German troops were present in Mali.

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The crisis is expected to top the agenda in talks next Wednesday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who is the current head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

AFP/jlb

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