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World French minister in Mali to pressure junta over Russian mercenaries

11:05  20 september  2021
11:05  20 september  2021 Source:   reuters.com

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France's Armed Forces Minister arrived in Mali on Sunday to pressure the military junta to end talks to bring Russian mercenaries into the country and push it to keep a promise to return the country to constitutional order in February. The visit by Florence Parly to Mali is the highest-level trip by French officials since the talks with Wagner emerged. An official from the French Armed Forces Ministry told reporters ahead of the visit that Parly would stress "the heavy consequences if this decision were to be taken by the Malian authorities."

But Mali 's junta which seized power in August 2020, has dug in, noting that France has begun scaling down its decade-old operation against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State across the region to include more European countries. On Sunday, Mali 's foreign ministry called objections from neighbour Niger to the prospect of a deal with Wagner "unacceptable, unfriendly and condescending". The visit by Florence Parly to Mali is the highest-level trip by French officials since the talks with Wagner emerged. An official from the French Armed Forces Ministry told reporters ahead of the visit

BAMAKO (Reuters) - France's Armed Forces Minister arrived in Mali on Sunday to pressure the military junta to end talks to bring Russian mercenaries into the country and push it to keep a promise to return the country to constitutional order in February.

a man riding a horse in the dirt: FILE PHOTO: A French soldier leaves with his backpack at the Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) during the Operation Barkhane in Gao © Reuters/BENOIT TESSIER FILE PHOTO: A French soldier leaves with his backpack at the Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) during the Operation Barkhane in Gao

Diplomatic and security sources have told Reuters that Mali's year-old military junta is close to recruiting the Russian Wagner Group, and France has launched a diplomatic drive to thwart it, saying such an arrangement is "incompatible" with a continued French presence.

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BAMAKO (Reuters) -France's Armed Forces Minister arrived in Mali on Sunday to pressure the military junta to end talks to bring Russian mercenaries into the country and push it to keep a promise to return the country to constitutional order in February. Diplomatic and security sources have told West Africa's main political bloc, ECOWAS, as well as other allies combating militants in the Sahel region, have also expressed concerns over the potential deal. But Mali 's junta which seized power in August 2020, has dug in, noting that France has begun scaling down its decade-old operation against

Mercenary deal described as extremely worrying. Kenyans outraged over high cost of fuel. Former DR Congo health minister freed on bail. The French defence minister , Florence Parly, has warned Mali against entering into a deal with a Russian security firm. There have been reports that Mali ’s military rulers are close to hiring mercenaries from the Wagner group. Ms Parly described the potential deal as "extremely worrying" - saying it would undermine efforts by France to counter the jihadist threat in the region.

West Africa's main political bloc, ECOWAS, as well as other allies combating militants in the Sahel region, have also expressed concerns over the potential deal.

But Mali's junta which seized power in August 2020, has dug in, noting that France has begun scaling down its decade-old operation against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State across the region to include more European countries.

On Sunday, Mali's foreign ministry called objections from neighbour Niger to the prospect of a deal with Wagner "unacceptable, unfriendly and condescending".

The visit by Florence Parly to Mali is the highest-level trip by French officials since the talks with Wagner emerged.

An official from the French Armed Forces Ministry told reporters ahead of the visit that Parly would stress "the heavy consequences if this decision were to be taken by the Malian authorities."

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Mali 's ruling junta on Sunday bristled over warnings by Western and regional leaders not to hire " mercenaries " from private Russian security firm Wagner, saying its partnerships are its business. Former colonial power France last week warned Bamako against such a deal following claims that And the regional grouping ECOWAS condemned the alleged plan, without naming Wagner, warning it would lead to a "deterioration of the security situation" in Mali . In a statement Sunday, Mali 's foreign ministry said: "Regarding the intention ascribed to the Malian authorities to hire ' mercenaries ', the

But Mali 's junta has dug in, noting that France has begun scaling down its decade-old operation against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State across the region, expecting other European countries such as Germany to get more involved. On Sunday, Mali 's foreign ministry called objections from Niger to the prospect of a deal with NIAMEY (Reuters) - France's Armed Forces Minister arrived in Niger on Sunday as part of a two-day visit to allies in the Sahel region, where French -led military operations against Islamist militants are under threat from Mali 's talks with Russian defence contractors.

She would also underscore the importance of keeping to the calendar for the transition to democracy leading to elections in February 2022, the official said.

French officials describe the relationship with the junta as "complicated", although it still relies on Paris for counter-terrorism operations.

Paris said on Thursday it had killed the leader of Islamic State in Western Sahara in northern Mali.

Parly earlier on Sunday was in Niger to lay out plans to reshape its operations in the region.

The French army started redeploying troops from its bases in Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu in northern Mali at the start of the month, French army sources have said.

France wants to complete the redeployment by January. It is reducing its contingent to 2,500-3,000 from about 5,000, moving more assets to Niger, and encouraging other European special forces to work alongside local forces.

The European force in the Sahel so far comprises about 600 troops from nine countries.

(Reporting by John Irish in Paris; Editing by Bate Felix, Kevin Liffey and Daniel Wallis)

accused of abandoning Mali, France denounces "unacceptable" and "indecent" remarks .
© Copyright 2021, Obs of the "unacceptable" and "indecent" remarks. France firmly rejected the accusations of "abandonment" of Mali on the Malian Prime Minister at the UN platform, who come back to "wipe their feet on the blood of French soldiers", one of whom died last Friday. Can France leave Mali? "There is no French disengagement, I want to start by restoring counter-truths (...) when we have 5,000 soldiers and disengaged three right-of-way, and that we intend to 'In orderly few thousand, w

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