France rules out intervention in Mali
11 January 2013, 17:28
Paris - A French minister on Friday ruled out a speedy deployment of French troops in Mali in response to urgent appeals for help from the African state and the United Nations.
"Rushing into things serves no purpose," Kader Arif, the minister for war veterans, told LCI television channel.
Arif is considered close to President Francois Hollande who was due to make a statement on Mali later on Friday.
The UN Security Council called overnight for foreign troops to be quickly sent to Mali to contain a new offensive by radical Islamists who control the north of the country and are vowing to capture more terrain.
The fresh fighting in Mali has re-ignited Western fears that the al-Qaeda-linked militants who currently control an area the size of France could capture even more territory and turn it into the same type of sanctuary that Afghanistan was under the Taliban.
Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore has appealed to France, the former colonial power, for help.
France has so far said that it will only provide logistical support for an intervention force made up of troops from the West African regional bloc Ecowas.
An Ecowas force of around 3 000 men is being readied but is thought unlikely to be ready to deploy before September.
On the ground in Mali, witnesses told AFP that foreign troops and weapons had already begun arriving by transport plane on Thursday, apparently to bolster government forces in central Mali, but it was unclear what country they came from.