UNITED NATIONS, April 25 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday met with the foreign minister of Mali, Tieman Coulibaly, to discuss the political and security situation in the West African country.
The two met on the day when the UN Security Council unanimously approved the peacekeeping mission in Mali to support the political process in the country.
During the meeting, the secretary-general and the foreign minister "exchanged views on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2100 (2013), which authorized the deployment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.
"They discussed the political, human rights and security situation in the country, including preparations for the holding of free, fair and credible elections," he said.
"The secretary-general reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to work closely with the Malian authorities to support inclusive political dialogue, protect and promote human rights and ensure the protection of the civilian population," the spokesman added.
Earlier on Thursday, the Security Council approved a 12,600-strong United Nations peacekeeping operation to take over from the African-led mission in Mali on July 1 and authorized the blue helmets "to use all necessary means" to carry out security-related stabilization tasks, protect civilians, UN staff and cultural artefacts, and create the conditions for the provision of humanitarian aid.
MINUSMA's core task is to support the political process in Mali, in close coordination with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
While officially established on Thursday, MINUSMA troops will not be on the ground until July 1, when they will take over from the African-led force (AFISMA) and begin an initial 12-month mandate. That start date is subject to review and could be delayed in the event of a major international military operation or a continued threat from terrorist forces on the civilian population or international personnel, according to the resolution.
Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between government forces and Tuareg rebels. The conflict uprooted hundreds of thousands of people and prompted the Malian government to request assistance from France to stop the military advance of extremist groups.