Qatar cast doubt on Tuesday over the value of France's military intervention in Mali against Islamist rebels, arguing that force would not solve the problem and urging dialogue.
"Of course we wish that this problem could be solved through dialogue, a political dialogue. I think that political dialogue is important and necessary. I don't think that power will solve the problem," Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani told reporters.
He said the Mali problem should be "discussed between neighbouring countries, the African Union and the (UN) Security Council," adding that his government, which was instrumental in supporting uprisings in several Arab Spring nations, is ready to help in mediating a solution.
"If anyone would ask for our help, from all parts... we will be a part of the solution, (but) not the sole mediator," he said.
France launched a campaign of air bombardments on Friday to halt an advance on the Malian capital Bamako by Islamist fighters. A contingent of 750 French troops has been sent to bolster Malian forces against the rebels, who have controlled northern Mali since April.
The 15-nation UN Security Council on Monday expressed its unanimous support for the French offensive.
But the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, of which Mali is a member, called on Tuesday for an "immediate ceasefire, dubbing the offensive "premature" and urging all parties to return to negotiations.
© 2013 AFP
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