French President appeals to UAE over Mali

Francois Hollande asks for support for French campaign against Islamic militants
Frances President Francois Hollande speaks during the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi on January 15, 2013. (AFP/Getty Images)
By Neil King
Wed 16 Jan 2013 04:06 PM

French President Francois Hollande has asked the UAE to donate warplanes or money in support of his country’s intervention in Mali.

Al-Qaeda-linked militants have taken over territory in the north of the former French colony and have started making a push towards the capital Bamako.

Hollande said that the UAE had already voiced support for the campaign in Africa, but had not agreed to any specific aid.

“The Emirates can determine for themselves what to do to support it,” he said.

The premier had previously said that France’s involvement in Mali was fully backed by international law and would be swift. French polls also suggest that 75 percent of French citizens backed the decision to send troops into the West African republic.

So far 750 troops have been deployed, with plans to send 1,750 more. An African coalition is also preparing for action in a United Nation-backed plan.

Speaking in Dubai, Hollande denied the campaign had underlying business interests, saying: “It’s the Africans who will be their own defenders, protectors.

“It has nothing to do with another époque of another time. What businesses? We defend no cause but that of the territory of Mali and we have no adversary but terrorism.”

Mr Hollande added that French forces would not leave until the country was rid of terrorists and had “legitimate authorities, an electoral process”.

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