UN urges Mali to hold peace talks
03 February 2014, 08:48
Mopti - United Nations Security Council representatives on Sunday visited Mali to urge the government of the troubled nations to start peace talks with Tuareg secessionist groups.
"We are not imposing anything, but we believe it is time to go forwards towards reconciliation," said Gerard Araud, French ambassador to the UN.
Araud, who was speaking in the eastern city of Mopti, headed the 15-strong delegation that included US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power.
The delegation was due to meet Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in capital Bamako on Sunday.
Tuareg groups are demanding more autonomy in the north of the West African nation.
Under a peace deal struck in neighbouring Burkina Faso in June after 18 months of crisis, Keita's government had to begin peace talks with separatists groups by 2 November.
Disagreements between government and Tuareg groups over the conditions of the talks, however, meant they never went under way.
The poverty-stricken West African nation is recovering from a March 2012 military coup and an Islamist insurgency that prompted France to send troops to its former colony.