Mali separatists, Islamist group make pledges in talks aimed at avoiding military operation

An official says that ethnic Tuareg rebels have agreed to stop pursuing a separate state in Mali's north, while Islamists in the area have promised to reject extremism and terrorism.

The pledges came during talks with Mali's government that aim to avoid a Western-backed military intervention in the troubled country.

Tuesday's meeting in Burkina Faso succeeded in setting up a framework for future negotiations.

The Tuareg rebels grabbed control of northern Mali this spring, then lost much of the territory to Islamist groups such as the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Dine.

Burkina's Foreign Affairs Minister Djibril Bassole said the separatists agreed to respect Mali's territorial integrity, though the Tuaregs later said they will strive for some autonomy.

Bassole added that Ansar Dine, meanwhile, agreed to "reject all forms of extremism and terrorism."