Putin, Mali’s leader emphasize need for peaceful settlement in Niger

Also, it is reported that following Russian-Malian highest-level talks in St. Petersburg on July 29, Vladimir Putin and Assimi Goita discussed developing further the friendly bilateral relationship

MOSCOW, August 15. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation on Tuesday with interim President of Mali Assimi Goita, the Kremlin press service said.

The two leaders “focused on the situation in the Sahara-Sahel region. In particular, [they] emphasized the need to settle the situation around the Republic of Niger exclusively by peaceful political and diplomatic means,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Also, following Russian-Malian highest-level talks in St. Petersburg on July 29, Putin and Goita discussed developing further the friendly bilateral relationship, the Kremlin added.

The conversation was initiated by Mali.

In late July, a group of military rebels in Niger announced the removal of President Mohamed Bazoum. They then established the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (Conseil national pour la sauvegarde de la patrie, CNSP), headed by General Abdourahmane Tchiani, to run the country. Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued an ultimatum, demanding that the rebels release Bazoum, threatening to use force.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said upon returning from the ECOWAS summit in Abuja on August 10 that the ECOWAS leaders had agreed to launch a military operation in Niger “as soon as possible.” The rebel leaders issued instructions to place the army on alert amid an ECOWAS announcement about a contingency plan for intervention in Niger. At the same time, the head of Niger’s rebel military government, Ali Lamine Zeine, said his government was ready to hold talks with ECOWAS representatives.

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The second Russia-Africa Summit took place at St. Petersburg’s Expoforum on July 27-28, in parallel with an economic and humanitarian forum. At a bilateral meeting with Goita on the sidelines of the summit, Putin said that the Russian Cabinet had allocated $2 million for the purchase of more food for the Mali via UN agencies. Goita in turn thanked Putin for his efforts to ensure peace and stability and said that Mali was ready to strengthen cooperation with Russia.

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