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Mali urges UN Security Council to fight extremists in Sahel

Mali’s foreign minister on Friday pressed the UN Security Council to quickly adopt a resolution endorsing the creation of a special force to fight the extremists increasingly plaguing North Africa’s Sahel region.

The minister, Abdoulaye Diop, expressed the “deep concern” of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who heads a five-nation regional grouping known as the G5 Sahel, over the “difficulties” slowing approval of the resolution.

He urged members to adopt it “without delay.”

The G5 — comprised by Mali, Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso — agreed in March to form a 5,000-strong anti-extremist force, but sought Security Council authorization before activating it. The force would collaborate with the UN peacekeeping force in Mali known as MINUSMA.

Keita said adoption of the resolution would “send a strong and unequivocal signal from the international community to terrorist groups and traffickers of all types.”

This file photo taken on July 14, 2016 shows a soldier of the United Nations mission to Mali MINUSMA standing guard near a UN vehicle after it drove over an explosive device near Kidal, northern Mali. (By AFP)

But a French-introduced resolution to provide political and financial support to such a force has been resisted by the United States, which says the resolution is too vague and believes a simple statement, rather than a resolution, would suffice.

As the leading financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, Washington also wants to tighten overall spending.

Diop, the Malian minister, also urged the UN to provide “adequate” material, staffing and financing for MINUSMA.

The mandate of the UN mission, with its 12,000 blue-helmeted troops, will expire at the end of this month unless the UN renews it. The force has been coming under ever more frequent and deadly attack from extremists in the region.

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