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Diplomat says France informed Russia about operation in Mali in advance

January 15, 2013, 2:30 UTC+3

France informed Russia on the start of a military operation to neutralize the Islamist threat in Mali in advance

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UNITED NATIONS, January 15 (Itar-Tass) – France informed Russia on the start of a military operation to neutralize the Islamist threat in Mali in advance, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin said Monday before the beginning of a meeting of the UN Security Council.

“The French informed us about their action and that’s why we don’t have any complaints in this respect,” Churkin said.

He indicated that the French operation in Mali and Britain’s plans to give logistical support to the French troops “fall in line with Resolution 2085 and comply with international law, since the French government brought its Armed Forces into action at the request of the Malian government.”

Members of the Security Council have unanimity of assessments of the threats that arise from the current situation in Mali, Churkin said.

He recalled that “a gradual introduction of African armed units along with a gradual buildup of diplomatic efforts” had been planned in Mali initially.

“There was a hope that a buildup of Mali and the Africans’ military potential would create a definite element of pressure but, sadly enough, this didn’t happen,” Churkin said.

France launched a military operation in Mali at President Francois Hollande’s instruction in response to a plea for assistance on behalf the Malian authorities. Media reports say the French have deployed a contingent of some 500 servicemen in the landlocked West-African country.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday the operation in Mali will take several weeks.

In the meantime, the Islamists who lost several dozen paramilitaries as a result of French Air Force bombing raids have promised to offer a tough response to what they consider to be a foreign aggression.

Abou Dardar, a leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad and West Africa told Agence France Presse that France has declared a war on Islam by interfering in the situation.

He promised the Islamists would deliver a blow to the very heartland of France in response.

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