Clinton arrives in Algeria for Mali, Al-Qaeda talks
ALGIERS (AFP) - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Algeria to discuss with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika the crisis in neighbouring Mali, large swathes of which have been overrun by Islamists.
Washington has launched a diplomatic offensive to secure Algeria's vital backing for a military intervention in Mali, where Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is among militant groups tightening their grip on the north.
"Algeria being the strongest Sahel state became a critical partner in dealing with AQIM," a State Department official said aboard Mrs Clinton's plane, which touched down in Algiers on Monday.
"In the context of what happened in North Mali when the government forces up there collapsed and the coup happened, Algeria's importance has become ever more important and it will really be a central focus in the talks between the secretary and president...there is a strong recognition that Algeria has to be a central part of the solution," the diplomat added.