G8 countries meet on facing al Qaeda in North Africa
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Last Updated: Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 21:34
Bamako: Representatives of leading Western countries and regional states today met in Mali to discuss how to step up the fight against Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda.

Anti-terror experts of G8 members Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States joined counterparts from Burkina Faso, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal in Bamako.

Diplomatic sources said that Algeria, which was also invited, boycotted the talks because it believed that countries outside the region should not be involved in the battle against al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

But Malian Foreign Minister Moctar Ouane said the meeting was "a sign of esteem and confidence" in Mali, where AQIM fighters are believed to be holding seven hostages seized last month in neighbouring Niger.

A diplomat said the aim was to increase awareness to step up efforts against AQIM, and matters discussed would include controlling borders and the role of organisations such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, also represented at the talks.

The meeting is scheduled to end tomorrow.

AQIM kidnapped five French nationals, a Madagascan and a Togolese from an uranium mining town in Niger on September 16. It is believed to be holding them in a mountainous desert region in northeastern Mali.


First Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 21:34

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