US, France agree on need to set up UN Mali force: Biden

PARIS (AFP) - The United States and France agree on the need to hand over international military operations in Mali to a United Nations mission as soon as it is "prudent", US Vice President Joe Biden said on Monday.

"We agreed on the need to as quickly as reasonably possible establish the African-led international mission in Mali and as quickly as is prudent transition that mission to the United Nations," he said after meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris.

Mr Biden praised France's "decisiveness" in intervening in Mali and the "competence and capability" of French military forces.

"Your decisive action was not only in the interest of France but quite frankly the United States and everyone," Mr Biden said.

"We also support the political process that France is leading to restore a democratic government in Mali."

On a tour of Europe after President Barack Obama's inauguration for a second term last month, Mr Biden also said he and Mr Hollande had discussed working with other countries in the region to "counter terrorism across North Africa and beyond".

"Additional strategies will be necessary in dealing with this new threat," said Mr Biden, who is the highest-ranking member of the new Obama administration to visit France.

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