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China asks Mali govt to protect its citizens

China looks forward to implementation of UNSC Resolution 2085, which authorises deployment of an Africa-led international task force to help restore Mali`s stability.

Beijing: China has asked the Mali government to protect Chinese nationals in view of the escalating conflict in the country, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said here on Thursday.

The Chinese embassies in Mali and neighbouring Algeria will keep close contact with concerned personnel, enterprises and other organisations, as well as provide them with all necessary consular assistance and protection, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing here.

Recent media reports have stated that criminals, believed to be Islamic militants, kidnapped about 41 foreign nationals in southeast Algeria on Wednesday, demanding that France end its military operations in Mali.

France launched its first ground assault against Islamist fighters in Mali on Wednesday, six days after initiating airstrikes.

Hong said China has asked the Mali government to take effective measures to protect Chinese organisations and personnel in the two countries.

Regarding China`s view about the deployment of French forces in Mali, Hong said China supports the Malian government`s efforts to safeguard its territorial integrity and suggests that all parties concerned should implement related resolutions approved by the UN Security Council.

Hong said China is closely monitoring the situation in Mali and has recognised that related countries and regional organisations have dispatched ground forces at the request of the Malian government.

China looks forward to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2085, which authorises the deployment of an Africa-led international task force to help restore Mali`s stability, he said.

"We also hope that the incident in Algeria can be appropriately addressed as soon as possible," he added.