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Burkina Faso: Mali Rebels Ready for Dialogue

by VOA News November 16, 2012

Burkina Faso says two Malian rebel groups are ready to open talks aimed at ending Mali's ongoing political crisis.

Burkina Faso's foreign affairs minister addressed reporters Friday after President Blaise Compaore met in Ouagadougou with delegates of the ethnic Tuareg separatist group MNLA and Islamist radical group Ansar Dine.

Djibril Bassole said the groups stated their willingness to engage in a political dialogue mediated by West African bloc ECOWAS, "with the aim of finding a just and lasting negotiated solution to the crisis."

There was no comment from MNLA or Ansar Dine.

Bassole said any dialogue would not end the possibility of military action to drive out the Islamist militants who control northern Mali.

The militants have imposed a strict form of Islamic law and are accused of numerous human rights abuses, including public executions, amputations, and floggings.

ECOWAS is making plans to deploy about 3,000 troops in Mali. The plan is awaiting approval by the U.N. Security Council.

Mali's interim government has asked for foreign intervention to help retake the north.

The West Africa country plunged into chaos after soldiers overthrew the government in March. MNLA and Ansar Dine took control of the north soon after. Ansar Dine and allied Islamist groups, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, later seized full control of the territory from MNLA.

Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Bassole said, "We need to judiciously combine the diplomatic and political process with military preparations to deal with terrorist groups who constitute a threat to the entire process."

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