Germany rules out troops for Mali, urges political solution

13th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Germany's foreign minister on Sunday ruled out sending German troops to fight Islamists in Mali and called for a political solution to the violence as French forces joined attacks on the rebels.

Guido Westerwelle said he welcomed "the fact that the Malian army, with the support of France and African states, has managed to stop the Islamists' advance."

"It was right that France responded to the request for help from the Malian government (but) the deployment of German combat troops is not up for debate," added the minister in a statement.

French air power helped the Malian army to retake the central town of Konna from the Islamists on Friday and President Francois Hollande said Saturday that the rebels had suffered heavy losses, estimated at 100 of their fighters.

One French pilot and 11 Malian soldiers have been killed in the clashes so far.

Westerwelle also said Germany would decide whether to participate in an EU training mission for the Malian forces when the plans for the deployment were completed and called for political mediation in the conflict.

"A lasting resolution to the Mali conflict can only occur through a political solution that includes a return to order in the whole of Mali, taking into account the justified concerns of the north," he said.

Islamists have controlled northern Mali since April 2012, triggering concern over whether the country could become a safe haven for Al-Qaeda linked extremists.

The UN Security Council has approved a 3,300-strong force to help Mali win back the territory. The force is to be commanded by a Nigerian, with Nigeria pledging the largest contribution so far at 600 troops.

Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal on Saturday each pledged 500 troops for the force. Benin on Sunday pledged roughly 300 troops.

© 2013 AFP

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