US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Algeria Monday to secure Algerian cooperation in fighting terrorism in northern Mali, Voice of America reported.
Al Qaeda’s African affiliate al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, seized control of much of northern Mali this spring after a March coup distracted the country’s military, Bloomberg News reported.
The US has stepped up aerial surveillance operations in Mali and other African nations to monitor AQIM and other Islamist groups like Nigeria’s Boko Haram, US intelligence officials told Bloomberg News. The US also participated in joint military exercises in July with France and West African countries.
Clinton met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers to discuss how Algeria might support the development of a West African force that could help Mali’s military regain control of northern areas now held by AQIM and ethnic-Tuareg rebels, according to VOA. The US and France are working with other West African countries to create such a force, which would be led by troops from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
According to Bloomberg News:
Surrounding countries look to Algeria, the region’s military and economic strongman, for leadership.
Following the meeting, Clinton said Bouteflika had agreed to work with the US and regional groups to push back against the Islamic extremists in Mali, Bloomberg News reported.
"I very much appreciated the president's analysis, based on his long experience, as to the many complicated factors that have to be addressed to deal with the internal insecurity in Mali and the terrorist and drug-trafficking threat that is posed to the region and beyond," Clinton said after the meeting, according to VOA.
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