Malians have no option but peace: PM

ALGIERS – Malian Prime Minister Modibo Keita said Tuesday that Malians had no other option but to secure a viable peace deal at internationally-backed talks currently underway in Algeria.

"We appreciate the commitment of all friendly countries… We Malians have no choice but to join the dynamics of peace as soon as possible," Algerian state television quoted Keita as saying upon his arrival in Algiers for an official visit.

Keita said that his visit to Algeria coincided with the launch of the fifth phase of comprehensive negotiations in Mali.

He expressed hope that the talks "will soon lead to a deal that can bring peace and stability to Mali."

The Malian PM also lauded Algeria's role in recent mediation efforts.

Keita did not say whether he would join his country's delegation, which is being led by Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, to the ongoing talks between the Malian government and northern rebel movements.

Mali slipped into violence in 2012 following a failed coup attempt and a Tuareg rebellion that allowed Al-Qaeda-linked militants to take over the country's northern half.

In early 2013, former colonial power France sent troops to the North African country and – with the help of Chadian and other African forces – flushed Islamist militants from the country's main northern cities.

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