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UN Security Council to discuss Mali force Thursday

By AFP

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN Security Council will on Thursday hold "preliminary" discussions over Mali's request for the UN to back military intervention in the country's Islamic-rebel-held north.

But it will take time to hammer out the details of a resolution, cautioned the statement from Guatemalan ambassador to the United Nations Gert Rosenthal, whose country holds the Council's rotating presidency in October.

Last week, Mali, France and west African nations led calls for the creation of an African-led force to help Mali flush out rebels from its northern territory, seized in a March coup.

Bamako has formally requested that the UN Security Council adopt a resolution authorizing a force led by regional bloc ECOWAS, and the issue must now be debated by the 15-nation body.

"It requires a lot more discussions among the members of the Security Council before we enter into discussions with ECOWAS on what we are talking about," Rosenthal said, adding that he expects at least one additional meeting later in the month.

"There seems to be some understanding that the situation in Mali cannot continue as it is, something has to be done," Rosenthal continued.

"But what has not been clarified is who does what, what the scale of this operation is, what it is going to look like, what are the budget implications."

In March, military putschists seized power in the capital, Bamako, ousting President Amadou Toumani Toure, only to see the north and east fall to Tuareg rebels and Islamist militias linked to Al-Qaeda.

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