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British foreign minister arrives in Mali

04 March 2013, 14:01

London - British Foreign Secretary William Hague arrived in Mali on Monday for a visit to meet French-backed African troops fighting Islamist militants for control of the west African country, his ministry said.

"My visit, the first by a British foreign secretary, underlines the UK's strong commitment to work with international partners to support Mali and countries in the region on countering terrorism and restoring security in the country," Hague said on his arrival in the capital Bamako.

He will hold talks with the president and prime minister of Mali as well as the west African country's foreign minister during his visit.

Hague will also meet the commander of the African-led AFISMA force, as well as the deputy commander of the European mission which is training Malian forces.

Britain has supplied a Royal Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft and a surveillance plane to help French troops.

Britain is not sending combat troops, but it will also supply 40 personnel for the EU training mission in Mali, and up to 200 for a separate training force in neighbouring English-speaking West African nations.

French and Chadian troops are currently hunting down Islamist rebels who were driven from northern Mali's main cities by a lightning French-led offensive launched in mid-January.


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