June 29, 2017 / 9:52 AM / 3 months ago

France's Macron makes suggestions to Algeria to unblock Mali impasse

French President Emmanuel Macron waits for a guest at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron contacted his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Wednesday over finding ways to restart a stalled peace process for Mali, said a source from Macron’s camp.

The accord, brokered by Algeria in 2015, was meant to draw a line under a separatist conflict that has destabilized Mali, with nomadic Tuaregs in the desert north pitted against a government seated in the south.

However, the agreement has yet to be fully implemented and Mali is struggling to contain militant movements in the north of the country, where rival militias frequently clash and Islamist groups carry out attacks on civilians, Malian soldiers, U.N. peacekeepers and French forces there.

The source, who declined to be identified, said on Thursday that Macron had proposed “concrete measures” over the situation in Mali. He gave no precise details.

“Like other actors and ourselves, Algeria wants things to go more quickly, and for the milestones it set to be met,” the source told reporters ahead of Macron’s visit to Mali for a regional heads of state meeting on Sunday which will discuss the security situation in the area.

Despite continued French troop deployments, a U.N. peacekeeping mission and years of peace talks, Mali remains beset by banditry, unrest and ethnic strife and there is little prospect that Paris can withdraw its 4,000 regional counter-terrorism force in the short-term.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by John Irish

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