PARIS — Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird on Thursday warned against letting the situation in Mali, sliced in two since a coup and partly controlled by Islamist radicals, go the way of Afghanistan.
“Terrorism is the great struggle of our generation,” said Baird after holding talks with French counterpart Laurent Fabius.
“We must not allow the same problems that the world allowed to happen in Afghanistan to show their face in the Saharan region and Mali,” he said.
“The territorial integrity… the humanitarian situation, the fight against terrorism must remain a priority,” he said.
The European Union is planning to send military trainers to help Mali’s army oust rebels and Islamic extremists controlling the north of the country, according to EU sources and a draft document obtained by AFP on Thursday.
France has drawn up a UN Security Council resolution seeking a detailed plan within 30 days on an international military intervention following a formal request from the authorities in Bamako.
The draft resolution by the former colonial power also calls on UN member countries and organisations such as the EU to train and equip the Malian army, which diplomats estimate at 1,500 men against twice that number for the rebel groups and fighters from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the north.
Both the French resolution and the EU proposals also demand political action, calling for the return of democracy and negotiations with the rebels to restore government in the north.
In March, military putschists seized power in the capital Bamako, ousting president Amadou Toumani Toure, only to see the north and east fall to Tuareg rebels and militias linked to Al-Qaeda.