NIAMEY, Niger – Niger's president says his country is ready to help Mali regain its northern region which is occupied by Islamist rebels.
Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou spoke Sunday after meeting with Mali president Dioncounda Traore. The leaders strongly urged all rebel movements in Mali to abandon the armed struggle, to break with the North Africa branch of al-Qaida and to recognize Mali's territorial integrity.
The leaders also appealed to the U.N. Security Council to endorse a military intervention to free northern Mali that would have thousands of African soldiers deployed for one year.
A March coup allowed rebels, including at least three groups with ties to al-Qaida, to grab control of the nation's distant north, an enormous triangle of land that includes borders with Mauritania, Algeria and Niger.