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UN authorizes military action to reunify Mali but demands political progress first

The U.N. Security Council has authorized military action to help reunify Mali but is demanding progress first on political reconciliation, elections and the training of African forces.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the U.N.'s most powerful body stresses that there must be a two-track solution, political and military, to try to wrest control of the north — an area the size of Texas — from al-Qaida and hardline extremists.

The resolution authorizes an African-led force to support Malian authorities in recovering the north but sets benchmarks before the start of offensive operations, beginning with progress on a political roadmap to restore constitutional order.

It also emphasizes the further military planning is needed before the force is sent to the north and asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to "confirm in advance the council's satisfaction with the planned military offensive operation."