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Mali (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - November 23, 2012)

Q : Can you report on what was said yesterday between the MNLA and senior officials at the Quai d’Orsay? Furthermore, a jihadist was reportedly arrested in Mauritania a week ago. What is the status of that?

A : Regarding the MNLA, for those of you who may not have followed this matter, a delegation of this group was in Paris yesterday. The delegation was received here by Jean-Félix Paganon, our ambassador for the Sahel.

This meeting notably allowed us to reaffirm to the representatives of this movement our position, which is fairly easy to summarize since it’s based directly on the terms of UNSCR 2071.

We told them that, in our view, this crisis must be handled based on the three components: the political component, the security component and the development component. The political component is very important; it’s critical. Indeed, we often tend to see the Malian crisis only in terms of its security dimension, and notably only in terms of eradicating AQIM terrorism in northern Mali.

The goal of this political dialogue is a reunified Mali, whose territorial integrity will be guaranteed, with its various components reconciled, and which will be free of the terrorism that has for now established itself in the north of the country. This political dialogue must be established between the Malian authorities and, to use the exact terms of resolution 2071, the non-terrorist groups, i.e. those who renounce violence and recognize the unity and territorial integrity of Mali.

The message we conveyed to the representatives of MNLA yesterday is that they must explicitly, unambiguously renounce their claims for independence and self-determination. This is how it would be possible for the MNLA to be considered a legitimate interlocutor.

Then, we indicated to them that initiating this political dialogue did not mean a return to the state of affairs that existed previously. What this political dialogue is really about is in fact the definition of a new institutional equilibrium and the distribution of wealth.

Lastly, we reaffirmed that France can of course act as a facilitator and is willing to do so. But the responsibility for this political dialogue lies primarily with the Malians themselves, the Malian authorities and these non-terrorist rebel groups.

These are the general messages that were conveyed yesterday by Ambassador Jean-Félix Paganon.



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