BAMAKO, Mali, March 4 (UPI) -- British Foreign Minister William Hague said he traveled Monday to Mali for discussions on plans to restore democracy over the entire country.
Mali in January called for military support from former colonial power France to stop the advance of Islamic fighters. Control over northern Mai was lost in early 2012 following a coup.
Hague said Monday that he made the trip, the first for a British foreign secretary, to discuss the steps needed to ensure Mali's return to a stable democracy.
"I look forward to discussing the Malian government's plans to implement their road map toward elections and the restoration of full democratic rule," he said in a statement. "A more inclusive political process is critical for longer-term stability in Mali."
The government of Chad said al-Qaida leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar died after a weekend raid on a terrorist base in northeastern Mali, The New York Times reported. Chad is among the African countries supporting multilateral military operations in Mali.
Belmokhtar was the alleged mastermind behind a January attack on a natural gas facility in Algeria. The attack was said to be in response to Algeria's decision to let French forces use its airspace to launch its military intervention in Mali.