MOSCOW, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The conflict in Mali against Islamist extremists should be led by the United Nations or African forces in the region, Russia's envoy to Africa said Saturday.
Mikhail Margelov's comments came after French forces helped Malian forces liberate the central Malian town of Konna from Islamists who seized the town earlier in the week.
Margelov said "nobody but the Africans can and should be solving the continent's problems."
France deployed ground troops and air support to Mali this week after the United Nations urged nations to sent aid to Mali to prevent the fall of the country to al-Qaida, a scenario that was seen as a potential threat to Africa and Europe.
ECOWAS, a bloc of 15 West African countries, said Friday it endorsed France's involvement and then said Saturday it will soon dispatch its own armed peacekeepers to Mali.