OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, June 20 (UPI) -- African leaders said an Islamic group operating in northern Mali needs to cut ties with terrorists for negotiations to move forward.
Members of Ansar Dine, an Islamist rebel group from the north, met with mediators from Africa in an effort to find a solution to the crisis.
Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole said willingness to talk was welcome, though Ansar Dine needed to sever ties with terrorist groups, reports Voice of America.
Burkina Faso is leading negotiations on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States.
Rebel military leaders overthrew Mali's civilian government in March, complaining about insecurity in northern Mali. Rebel groups have since declared autonomy in that region.
Ansar Dine is said to be aligned with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the regional arm of al-Qaida. The group fought alongside Tuareg rebels during March fighting. Ansar Dine, however, said it is pushing for Islamic law rather than full separation, a position supported by the Tuareg movement.
ECOWAS has since called for support from the United Nations to send troops to Mali to resolve the crisis.
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