Merkel to meet AU chief to discuss Mali

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is slated to visit the African Union chief Thomas Boni Yayi to discuss the military operation in Mali.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert announced the news on Friday saying that the Benin President would be received with military honors in Berlin on Wednesday.

According to Seibert, the two officials will discuss “bilateral relations, the role of the African Union in Africa’s peace and security set-up as well as current security developments on the continent, especially the situation in Mali.”

Benin, which currently holds the rotating AU presidency, has promised to send 300 troops to help the Malian Army fight against the militants controlling the northern parts of the West African country.

Germany has also sent two military transport aircraft with 14 crew members to transport to Mali soldiers from one of the 14 West African states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The aircraft would first stop in France to be loaded with medical material and then fly to the Malian capital of Bamako.

Meanwhile, the European Union foreign ministers have agreed to back up France in its operations in Mali by launching a military mission to train and restructure the West African country’s embattled army.

On January 11, France launched a military intervention in Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of militants in the African country.

Four days later, France announced that it would more than triple the number of its troopers in Mali from 800 to 2,500. French troops launched their first ground attack against rebel forces on January 16.

TE/JR