U.S. welcomes diplomatic efforts in Mali

Nov. 8, 2012 at 11:17 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Washington supports statements from a rebel movement in northern Algeria that it was ready to engage in talks with the central government in Bamako.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar Dine are militant groups suspected of human rights violations after they claimed autonomy in northern Mali following in early 2012.

Sanad Ould Bouamama, a spokesman for Ansar Dine, told al-Arabiya his group was different from al-Qaida, however. His group had sent delegates to neighboring countries to end the conflict simmering in the country.

"We sent delegations to Algeria and Burkina Faso with our demands and these are now being negotiated," he was quoted as saying. "We agreed to take part in the democratic process."

Washington has supported an initiative by African leaders to send a neutral force into Mali to help restore stability. Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington welcomed the Islamic group's decisions.

"Having talked the talk, we want to see them walk the walk and lead the way in terms of a strong political process in Mali that can support greater security in the country as well," she said.

Bouamama said he was advocating for more recognition for residents in north Mali.

"We are Muslims and we will not live as (former colonial power) France and U.S. see fit," he said.

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