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Nigerian boots set for Mali ground

Nov. 16, 2012 at 9:46 AM

ABUJA, Nigeria, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Nigerian forces could be on the ground in Mali in a matter of weeks once the United Nations gives consent to the operation, a commander said.

The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain issued a joint declaration from Paris expressing their support for some form of military action in Mali.

"We encourage our partners to enhance efforts for a political solution to the Malian crisis, as well as to contribute to a possible training mission to support the Malian armed force," the statement read.

Members of the Economic Community of West African States are putting the final touches on a plan to send a neutral force into Mali. The country was divided early this year after rebels, some of which are aligned with al-Qaida, claimed autonomy for north Mali following a coup.

Members of the African Union announced support for a regional force to restore security in north Mali this week. Nigerian Adm. Ola Ibrahim told the BBC his forces could be on the ground in a matter of weeks once the U.N. Security Council signs off on the ECOWAS plan.

"What we agreed to is a situation where Malian forces will do most of the job securing their country," he noted.

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