U.S., France agree on need to hand over Mali operation to UN mission: Biden   2013-02-04 22:58:55            
 Franceand U.S.  agreed on need to hand over Mali operations to UN mission when it is "prudent.".
 • Biden commended France's leading role in the fight against terrorism.
 • Hollande expressed his gratitude for U.S. political and logistic support to Mali operation.


PARIS, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Monday said France and the United States have agreed on the need to hand over Mali military operations to a United Nations mission when it is "prudent."

"We agreed on the need to as quickly as reasonably possible establish the African-led international mission in Mali and as quickly as is prudent transition that mission to the United Nations," he said after talks with French President Francois Hollande on issues concerning Mali, Syria and Iran.

Biden hailed Hollande's "decisiveness" in Mali and commended France's leading role in the fight against terrorism at a press conference.

"We support the political process led by France in order to restore a democratic governance in Mali," Biden said.

He stressed the importance of working with "our regional partners to counter terrorism cross North African and beyond."

President Hollande expressed his gratitude for U.S. political and logistic support to Mali operation.

"I appreciated the support of the decision that I took which is the intervention of France on behalf of the international community in Mali," Hollande said.

Hollande and Biden also discussed Iran's controversial nuclear program.

"We regret that Iran is still refusing to be transparent and to respond to its international obligations. So we will raise up the pressure so that negotiations can lead to a solution," Hollande said.

On his part, Biden reiterated the U.S. offer for bilateral talks with Iran on its disputed nuclear program.

"We share the view that there has been no real evidence of any movement by the Iranians... I complimented the president and his predecessor (Nicolas Sarkozy) on the strong stance they have taken to show Iran that we mean business," the U.S. leader said.

Iran and the West are locked in a bitter dispute over the former's nuclear ambitions. The West accuses Tehran of developing nuclear weapon under the cover of peaceful nuclear program, a charge Iran has consistently denied.

The two also held talks on ways to press for resumption of talks to end the deadlocked Middle East peace process.

As the highest-level official of the new Obama administration to visit France, Biden grasped the spotlight throughout his tour in Paris, which came in a context that some analysts doubted if the United States is reluctant to be involved in any way with another international intervention.

"Biden's visit is an opportunity for Obama administration to know closely Hollande's staff and policy to be sure not to send American troops in Mali. It is also a message to show that France is an important partner that U.S. have top work with in face of international issue such as terrorism and also to reassure Europeans that it is not only Asia that matters to them," Eric Bonnet, analyst from BVA told Xinhua.

Douglas Herber, the editor of international channel FRANCE 24, also said that Biden's visit is important as" comes at a time when the U.S. is shifting its emphasis away from Europe towards the Asia-Pacitific theater."

Biden underscored one of the purposes of his Europe-tour visit, which clearly showed that"Europe remains the oldest, closest ally of the United States," and despite political trend that was shifting focus to Asia-Pacific, "the European-American relationship is sort of the bedrock of global relations", Herber noted.

Herber commented that Hollande's gratitude to the United States for its support in Mali mission was honest and heartfelt. "This was not just a diplomatic thank-you," Herber told the TV anchor in the aftermath of the two leaders' meeting.

"In the end, the U.S. has thrown a lot of support behind France, in terms of intelligence and logistical aid. And Hollande has a sincere appreciation of the limitations of the possibilities of U.S. intervention right now."

The U.S. vice president arrived in Paris on Sunday after attending the Munich Security Conference in southern Germany and will head for London for talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron.


Fresh aerial raids occur in northeastern Mali

BAMAKO, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- The French troops on Sunday launched fresh aerial raids against the islamist positions in northeastern Mali, sources in Mali have said, one day after the visit to Mali by the French President Francois Hollande.

The French army massively bombarded the region of Kidal which was the last stronghold of the islamists in northern Mali, near the Algerian border. The French military spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard also confirmed the bombardments which, he said, targeted the "logistical bases as well as the training grounds of the islamists," in zones near the Algerian border.Full story

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PARIS, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- After aborting Islamist rebels offensive to the south of Mali, French forces launched an major air raids Saturday overnight in the country's northern region which has been in hands of Islamist rebels since 10 months, spokesman for the French army said Sunday.

"Important air strikes... in north of Kidal and the Tessalit region" were taking place near Algerian border and where the presumed Islamist fighters were hiding after losing main Malian cities, French news channel BFMTV reported, citing Thierry Burkhard, spokesman for the French army.Full story

Hollande arrives in Mali in hope for operation shift

BAMAKO, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- French President Francois Hollande arrived in Marli on Saturday in hope for an early shift of anti- rebel operations to African troops.

Hollande described his visit to the former French colony as a mission to express "support, encouragement and pride" to "out soldiers."Full story

Editor: Liu
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