Mali's FM denies meeting representatives of rebel Ansar Dine

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-11-5 16:19:07

 Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly has denied meeting representatives of the Ansar Dine rebel group in his just-ended visit to Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso.

There was no meeting between Coulibaly and representatives of Ansar Dine headed by Iyad Ag Ghali, who is gaining ground in northern Mali, a source close to the country's top diplomat said on Sunday night.

The source told Xinhua that the minister was in Ouagadougou under the auspices of Burkina Faso's mediation in the Malian crisis.

However, the source indicated that even though the minister did not directly meet with representatives of rebel groups in Ouagadougou, the government is open to "talks with members of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) as well as the Malians who are members of Ansar Dine group."

Earlier, the special representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Mali, Cheaka Aboudou Toure, noted, "Dialogue is possible with MNLA and Ansar Dine members who are Malian nationals. However, this is on condition that they recognize the indivisible and secular character of the Malian Republic and that they also renounce violence."

Toure made the remarks to Xinhua on Tuesday at the opening of an international meeting in the Malian capital Bamako to discuss the future deployment of an ECOWAS-led standby force in Mali to regain control of the northern part of its member state.

The separatist MNLA group and Al-Qaida-linked rebels seized northern Mali in the aftermath of the March 22 military coup. The UN Security Council has authorized ECOWAS to produce a detailed plan for intervention, which is expected next year.

A well-placed source has told Xinhua that "the Ansar Dine group is ready to dissociate itself from Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)."

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