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RABAT, February 2 (Itar-Tass) - The situation in Mali is a clue to stability in Africa’s Sahel region, Russia’s special presidential envoy for Africa affairs, Federation Council member Mikhail Margelov told Itar-Tass in an interview on Friday. During his just-ended visit to Morocco he held a meeting with that country’s Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister Saad ad-Din al-Osmani.
"As for Mali, we see eye to eye in the sense it was largely an aftereffect of the Libyan events, including uncontrolled access to Gaddafi’s arsenals, a large number of armed and trained Tuaregs returning to their indigenous areas in Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Chad and other countries in the Sahel Region,” Margelov said. “We agreed that the operation in Mali should be African in form and content."
The Russian envoy believes that “the French troops have done an important and useful job, when they prevented the Al-Qaeda branch in the Islamic Maghreb region from seizing Mali’s capital Bamako, but now they are to be replaced by an ECOWAS force.”
"Mali is Russia’s traditional partner not only in the sphere of politics and security, but in the economy, too,” Margelov said. “At present a number of large Russian companies are going ahead with their projects in Mali, despite the no easy military and political situation in that country.”
"Russia has always thought that Africans alone can and must deal with the problems of the African continent, while the task of the UN Security Council permanent member-states is to help them in this in every possible way,” he said.