Mali's foreign minister in Paris to discuss Al-Qaeda threat

10th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Mali's foreign minister begins a two-day visit to France Tuesday during which he will discuss the threat posed by Al Qaeda's

north African offshoot, which has four French hostages in its hands, he said.

Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga will meet his French counterpart Alain Juppe, the Elysee's Africa chief Andre Parent and Co-operation Minister Henri de Raincourt, Mali's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"We will touch on questions of bilateral and international interest as well as security in the Sahel-Saharan region. France is a valuable partner to Mali," Maiga told AFP before leaving for Paris.

He would also discuss a planned meeting of countries in the Sahel to be held in Bamako on better coordinating the fight against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The north African branch of the terrorist network has its roots in Algeria, but has bases in Mali from where it launches attacks, kidnappings of westerners and carries out trafficking in other countries in the desert region.

Maiga's visit to Paris comes after recent trips to Mauritania, Niger and Algeria to discuss the meeting of foreign ministers at the end of May.

AQIM is holding four French hostages kidnapped in September 2010 in northern Niger as well as an Italian kidnapped in February in Algeria.

© 2011 AFP

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