German defence minister urges Mali troops to ensure security

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere on a visit to Mali Monday stressed that it was up to the Malian army to ensure security in the nation, after French and African troops have driven Islamist rebels out of their northern strongholds.

"There will only be a good development of the situation, in a lasting way, if the Malian military forces themselves ensure security," he said after meeting with Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore.

During his visit De Maiziere met with German soldiers deployed to support French and African troops fighting the Islamist extremists.

The aid which Germany is providing to the European mission to train and advise the Malian army must "be a part of a political process of reconciliation" with the north and with the country's different ethnic groups, De Maiziere said.

He also expressed support for Mali holding elections in July.

Before arriving in Bamako on Monday, De Maiziere visited German forces in neighbouring Senegal, where Berlin provides logistical and plane refuelling support to French troops.

De Maiziere told journalists that it was "in Europe's interest that terrorism doesn't spread in Mali".

Germany has approved the deployment of up to 330 soldiers to Mali, with more than half earmarked for the European Union Training Mission and 100 of them to provide logistical and administrative support in areas such as water and energy supplies.

Additionally 150 German soldiers are to provide logistical backup to the French deployment in Mali via help with transport and the refuelling of planes.

According to European sources, Germany is providing the second largest contingent of troops to Mali after France.

However, no German combat troops are planned.