UN urges Mali's government and Tuareg separatists to engage in peace talks starting Aug. 17

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The United Nations Security Council is welcoming agreement on a roadmap for negotiations between the Malian government and Tuareg separatists. And the council is calling on both sides to engage in follow-up peace talks starting Aug. 17.

Talks between the Bamako-based government and Tuareg separatists in the Algerian capital Algiers are aimed at restoring stability in northern Mali, which fell under the control of al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists in 2012. A French-led military intervention scattered the extremists last year.

The Security Council reiterated its strong concern about the fragile security situation in the north in a presidential statement approved Monday. It called on the parties "to immediately and fully respect a cease-fire" signed on May 23.