France says Africans need to take lead in Mali

4:57 PM, Jan 19, 2013   |    comments
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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) - France's foreign minister says Mali's neighbors in West Africa "need to take the lead" in the military intervention to oust extremists from northern Mali.

However, at a summit in Ivory Coast, the French minister acknowledged it could be weeks before neighbors are able to do so.

Neighboring countries are expected to contribute around 3,000 troops to the operation. Soldiers from Togo and Nigeria have arrived to help the French, but concerns about the mission have delayed other neighbors from sending their promised troops. Funding for the mission is also an issue.

Ivory Coast's president says Mali's neighbors can't allow northern Mali to become a "no-man's land" and must work together to eradicate terrorism in the region. President Alassane Ouattara (ah-lah-SAHN' WAH'-tah-rah) says: "No other nation in the world, no other region in the world will be spared" if large swaths of the Sahel fall to the extremists.

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