Intl organizations to meet on Mali's future

International organizations, 45 countries to discuss Mali strategy at meeting in Brussels

Associated Press
Intl organizations to meet on Mali's future
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A convoy of Malian troops makes a stop to test some of their weapons near Hambori, northern Mali, on the road to Gao, Monday Feb. 4, 2013. French troops launched airstrikes on Islamic militant training camps and arms depots around Kidal and Tessalit in Mali's far north, defense officials said Sunday, as the first supply convoy of food, fuel and parts to eastern Mali headed across the country. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Representatives of international organizations and about 45 countries will meet Tuesday in Brussels to coordinate efforts to stabilize the West African nation of Mali, according to European Union officials.

Topics will include assessing the progress of deploying African troops to Mali, where French forces, with Malian military help, are trying to wresting control of the country's vast northern part from jihadists.

The conference will also discuss the humanitarian situation, ways to stabilize newly retaken cities such as Gao and Timbuktu, how to support Mali's return to constitutional rule, and ways to help bring together the country's disparate ethnic, religious and political groups.

The European Union will host the meeting, which will be co-chaired by the U.N., the African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States. Malian officials will also participate, as will representatives of the World Bank, other countries in the region and a number of EU countries.

In addition, another meeting will take place Tuesday — the second meeting to set up a 500-person EU mission to train the Malian military, in the hope that it will be eventually be capable of holding the retaken territory. At the first such meeting last week, 17 countries announced firm commitments to mission.

But a senior EU official said it will take some time before Mali is able to stand on its own. He said there will be a need for continuing international military support until the necessary political changes are achieved. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of EU rules.

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