Mali Islamists to meet regional mediator

2012-06-17 20:09

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Ouagadougou - Islamist rebels who seized the northern half of Mali along with other groups will meet on Monday with west Africa's top mediator for the crisis, a source close to the mediation team said.

The delegation from Islamist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), which arrived on Friday in the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, will meet with Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) lead mediator for Mali, the source said on Sunday.

Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole met the six Ansar Dine representatives on Sunday for what he described as "preliminary discussions".

Compaore met on 9 June with a delegation from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg separatist group that together with Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) capitalised on the power vacuum created by a 22 March military coup to seize Mali's vast desert north.

Ecowas has a 3 300-strong military force on standby to help reclaim Mali's north, but the United Nations Security Council has twice this week refused to give its blessing to an armed intervention.

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