Islamist group Ansar Dine says open to talks with Bamako
4/15/2012 9:10:01 PM -
BAMAKO (AFP) - Islamist group Ansar Dine, which controls the north of Mali along with Tuareg rebels, said Sunday that it is open to negotiations on the country's future with Bamako.
"We are available to discuss with Bamako authorities. We are available to talk about the future with Bamako," Oumar Ag Mohamed, a source close to the Islamist group's chief Iyad Ag Ghaly, told AFP.
"We have already freed about 200 prisoners. We will free others," said Mohammed.
On Saturday, Ansar Dine, which means "Defenders of Islam" in Arabic, said it had released 160 Malian military prisoners captured during fighting.
"Between Muslim brothers, we can get along. But non-Muslims must not meddle in our problems," added Mohamed, referring to Western powers.
"We are also ready to allow food aid for our Muslim brothers to arrive in the three regions in the north of Mali," he said.
Speaking in Nouakchott, Malian envoy Tibile Drame said earlier Sunday that there was a "basis for dialogue" with Ansar Dine, which is seeking to impose sharia law throughout Mali.
Backed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, Ansar Dine had fought alongside the Tuaregs but is against their separatist ambitions.