Jul 20, 2014, 4:24 PM
News Code: 2721839
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Algeria mediates between Mali gov't, separatists

Algiers, July 20, IRNA - Algeria on Wednesday hosted high profile negotiations between the Malian government and representatives of Touareg and Arab separatists to end years of armed conflict, according to Algerian Embassy in Tehran.

Before the start of talks, the two sides agreed to swap prisoners in a goodwill gesture brokered by Algeria.

"It's not time for escalation, but for calm," Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said before the start of talks. He referred to the Algeria-brokered prisoner exchange as a deal that would help build trust between all parties.

Meanwhile, he expressed his hope that the Malian parties would reach a "balanced, permanent solution that meets everyone's aspirations."

A government delegation led by Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop and representatives of six northern Mali armed groups, including the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), took part in the talks.

Diplomats from Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other international bodies also attended the discussions.

Groups that allied with radical Islamists and occupied northern Mali before being pushed out in an international military intervention in January 2013 have been excluded.

The MNLA representative confirmed that his group had abandoned their demand for independence and self-rule; a stance confirmed by three of the six movements that are taking part in the meeting.

Algeria has made huge facilitation efforts to bring together several armed movements of northern Mali in Algiers to find a solution to the crisis in the country, ravaged by a war that has been threatening its territorial integrity since 2012.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, Algeria, at the request of the Malian authorities, has made every effort to bring about the necessary conditions for an inclusive dialogue between the different movements of the northern Mali and the central Government of Bamako, with a view to restoring peace and security in the country, weakened by low revenue.

Since March 2012, Mali is split in two. The two thirds of the national territory, including the cities of Kidal, Gao, Timbuktu and a part of the region of Mopti were occupied by armed groups.

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