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United Nations says little time to deal with Mali extremists

Published on Oct 5, 2012 8:29 AM

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - United Nations (UN) political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman told a closed Security Council meeting on Thursday that Mali urgently needed international help to reclaim the north of the country from Islamist militants and that "time is not on our side," UN envoys said.

Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to seize two-thirds of the country. But Islamist extremists, some al Qaeda allies, hijacked the revolt in the north.

Mr Feltman told the council the situation in the north of Mali continued to deteriorate, posed a "genuine threat" to regional peace and security, and that the international community urgently needed to deliver a unified response, said council diplomats.

West Africa's regional body, the Economic Community Of West African States (Ecowas), has mapped out a three-phase operation to help Malian troops recapture the north, and Mali's interim leader, Dioncounda Traore, asked the 15-member UN Security Council earlier this month to authorise the force.

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