Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Clinton in Algeria for talks on Mali crisis

US Secretary of State meets President Abdelaziz Bouteflika over crisis in bordering Mali.

ALGIERS // US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Algeria today to discuss with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika the crisis in neighbouring Mali.

Washington has launched a diplomatic offensive to secure Algeria's vital backing for a military intervention in Mali, where Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is among militant groups tightening their grip on the north.

"Algeria being the strongest Sahel state became a critical partner in dealing with AQIM," a US state department official said aboard Mrs Clinton's plane, which touched down in Algiers shortly before 9.30am UAE time.

"In the context of what happened in north Mali when the government forces up there collapsed and the coup happened, Algeria's importance has become ever more important and it will really be a central focus in the talks between the secretary and president.

"There is a strong recognition that Algeria has to be a central part of the solution," said the US diplomat.

Clinton, on her second visit to the Algerian capital after a trip last year, is to meet President Bouteflika following talks with Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci.

The North African nation shares a long border with Mali, where extremists and rebel groups took over large parts of the country's north after a coup in March.

Mauritania and Algeria have called for dialogue in a bid to reach a political solution to the crisis, after initially ruling out sending troops.

The common influence among the fundamentalist armed groups ruling northern Mali is AQIM, which originated in Algeria and is active in regional countries including Mauritania.

The United Nations Security Council on October 12 approved a resolution urging West African nations to speed up preparations for an international military force of up to 3,000 troops that would attempt to wrest control in northern Mali.

Algeria, with its army, was at first opposed to any military intervention in Mali, with which it shares a 1,400-kilometre border, fearing a destabilisation of its territory.

And according to another state department official travelling with Clinton, Algeria has been "warming to the idea" of intervention led by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

"One of the things that we'll be talking about is ... the role that Algeria could play if ECOWAS provides the boots on the ground ... in coordination with the forces of Mali," said the official.

"Then the rest of us have to support that and create the means for it to succeed."

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National