French offer early support for Mali

May 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM

BRUSSELS, May 14 (UPI) -- The French government said Tuesday it was making long-term commitments to Malian development ahead of a European donors' conference in Brussels.

The European Commission hosts a conference regarding Mali, which was divided when foreign and Islamic rebels seized northern territory in a 2012 coup.

The French government said Tuesday it would formally commit to $360 million in aid over two years when the conference begins, Bloomberg News reports. The French government is a co-host for the conference, which is to begin Wednesday.

The Malian government in January called in military support from former colonial power France to help fight northern guerrillas.

The U.N. Security Council established the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali under a Chapter VII resolution. The force will include 12,600 troops set for deployment by July 1.

Mali said it needs about $5 billion in development funds and said it could raise about half of that on its own.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Malians in major northern cities were running out of water. Most people are relying on generators for electricity, the aid group said.

Mali is expected to have elections in July. Malian interim President Dioncounda Traore is to brief European lawmakers on progress in his country this week.

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