ABUJA, Nigeria, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The head of the Economic Community of West African States hailed Nigerian forces for their commitment to support a pending mission in Mali.
ECOWAS President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo met with Nigerian leaders in Abuja ahead of next week's celebrations for the country's Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
During his visit, the African leader praised the Nigerian military for their contribution to peace and regional stability. Nigerian forces, he said in a statement, had committed to operations in Guinea Bissau "and the proposed peace mission in Mali."
ECOWAS presented the U.N. Security Council with plans for a 3,000-member force to ensure the political stability and territorial integrity of Mali. Foreign fighters and Islamic rebels, some of which are aligned with al-Qaida, claimed authority for northern Mali following a series of political disturbances in early 2012.
In December, the ECOWAS Council of Ministers said it was "disturbed" by what it said was the lack of urgency regarding the deployment of African forces to Mali. A Malian leader this week said some rebel groups were pushing toward the south of the country.
The United Nations approved the Mali mission last month. An official from the African Union told the BBC this week that NATO should play a role in the intervention.