Baird meets with Malian, French envoys

Credits: REUTERS/Patrick Doyle


OTTAWA - As French troops launched their first ground assault on al-Qaida-linked fighters in Mali, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird met with the envoys of Mali, France and Côte D'Ivoire in Ottawa.

Baird billed Wednesday's meeting as "an exchange of views" on the humanitarian and security situation in the West African nation.

"For me this will be very much a listening opportunity to hear about the situation on the ground, the great efforts that our strong friend and ally France is taking," he told the trio of ambassadors in brief opening remarks.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also spoke with French President Francois Hollande Wednesday.

On Monday, Canada sent an RCAF C-17 transport plane to aid efforts to beat back a surge by terrorist fighters from the country's north.

It's also pushing Mali's interim government to hold elections as soon as possible. A military coup last March destabilized the country, allowing jihadists to gain a foothold there.

- With files from Reuters

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