France insists Kenya's incursion has Somali backing
France insisted Tuesday that Kenya's offensive against Islamist rebels in southern Somalia, which Paris is supporting, had been launched with the consent of the Somali government.
On Monday, Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed condemned the incursion, implicitly calling into question its legality, but a French foreign ministry spokesman told reporters that there had been an agreement.
"The Kenyan intervention was decided in agreement with the Transitional Federal Government," spokesman Bernard Valero said, explaining that the Kenyan and Somali defence ministers had signed an accord on October 18.
France, which has naval forces in the region to help EU and NATO fleets battle Somali pirates, is providing logistical support for a Kenyan military operation against the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militia.
Kenya's unprecedented military incursion began on October 16, after several foreigners were abducted on its soil and taken across the border. Its troops and tanks have pushed some 100 kilometres (60 miles) into southern Somalia.
France said last week that 66-year-old Marie Dedieu, a disabled French expat who was kidnapped on October 1 and taken to Somalia, had died, probably because her captors had refused to provide her cancer medication.
© 2011 AFP