Clinton to meet with Bouteflika on Mali force
WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet in Algeria next week with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in a bid to win his support for an international force for Mali, her spokeswoman said Thursday.
"Mali is one of the subjects that the secretary does want to talk to Algerian officials about, as well as the general issue of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
Clinton is to meet on October 30 with Bouteflika and other top officials in Algeria, which shares a long border with Mali, where extremists and rebel groups took over large swathes of the country's north after a March coup.
Mauritania and Algeria have called for dialogue in a bid to reach a political solution to the crisis, after initially ruling out sending troops.
The common influence among the fundamentalist armed groups ruling northern Mali is Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which originated in Algeria and is active in regional countries including Mauritania.
The UN Security Council on October 12 approved a resolution urging West African nations to speed up preparations for an international military force of up to 3,000 troops that would attempt to reconquer northern Mali.
France and the United States, meanwhile, have offered logistical support in the effort.
"I have seen the press reports today that the Government of Algeria seems to be more open to supporting the ECOWAS force," Nuland said.
"And so we look forward to continuing that discussion when we're there on Tuesday."