Mali, Chad, West Africa nations unexpectedly postpone EU talks, Borrell says
The foreign ministers of Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad unexpectedly postponed joint talks in Brussels with the European Union on Wednesday, the EU's top diplomat said, as the bloc struggles to stabilise the region after a series of coups.
A European force, known as Takuba, was set up to help Mali and West African Sahel neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger tackle militants linked to the so-called Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda who have occupied swathes of territory where their borders meet.
As Islamist militants grow in strength, local sentiment has hardened against European involvement.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met the ministers separately.
"This series of meetings allowed us to take stock of the very worrying situation in the Sahel region and of the latest events in Burkina Faso and Mali and the spreading threat to neighbouring countries," Borrell said in a televised statement.
Burkina Faso's army said on Monday it had ousted President Roch Kabore, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and the national assembly, and closed the country's borders. The coup follows two coups in Mali in the past 18 months.
Borrell reiterated that he condemned the coup and called for the president to be released.
Mali is the epicentre of a jihadist insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and has spread to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso. 👇https://t.co/gv6Bfyol87— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) December 31, 2021
Borrell did not give more details of why the joint meeting could not go ahead, but he said he urged Mali's Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop to provide reassurances that European militaries could continue to work in the region.
"The European Union intends and hopes to stay engaged in Mali and the Sahel but not at any cost... I asked the minister to provide concrete guarantees to ensure the effectiveness of our support missions," Borrell said.