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France says Mali standoff untenable, junta 'out of control'

France says Mali standoff untenable, junta 'out of control'

FILE PHOTO: A French soldier mans a machine gun in the door of a NH 90 Caiman military helicopter during Operation Barkhane over Ndaki, Mali, July 29, 2019. Picture taken July 29, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS: France's foreign minister said on Friday (Jan 28) that a standoff with an "out of control" junta in Mali was untenable, and that Paris was discussing with partners how to adapt its operations to continue the fight against Islamist militants there.

Tensions have escalated between Mali and its international partners after the junta failed to organise elections following two military coups.

It has also deployed Russian private military contractors, which some EU countries have said is incompatible with their mission.

"The junta is truly out of control," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio, also calling it illegitimate.

"European, French and international forces are seeing measures that are restricting them. Given the situation, given the rupture in the political and military frameworks we cannot continue like this."

Denmark said on Thursday it was pulling its troops out after the junta insisted on an immediate withdrawal.

France and 14 other European countries urged the junta on Wednesday to allow Danish special forces, part of a broader European task force created to fight Islamist militants, to remain in Mali.

They rejected the junta's claims their presence was without legal basis. The junta rejected that.

Defence ministers from those countries will hold crisis talks later on Friday.

"We cannot stay like this," Le Drian said when asked if European forces should remain in Mali. "We are holding talks with our African and European partners to see how to adapt our forces to continue the fight against terrorism."

Source: Reuters/vc

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