Mali asks Muslim leaders to negotiate with al Qaeda affiliate,

Mali’s government said on Tuesday that it asked the country’s main Islamic body to open peace talks with leaders of al Qaeda’s local affiliate in an effort to end a decade of conflict.

Malian authorities have previously endorsed the idea of talks and have quietly backed local peace initiatives with the militants as security deteriorates and Islamist groups expand beyond their traditional strongholds.

But the latest announcement by the religious affairs ministry marks by far the most concrete step toward negotiations with militant leaders.

Such an approach is vigorously opposed by Mali’s chief military ally France, whose president, Emmanuel Macron, said in June that French troops would not conduct joint operations with countries that negotiate with Islamist militants. read more.

The minister of religious affairs asked the High Islamic Council (HCI) to open negotiations with the leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), ministry spokesperson Khalil Camara told Reuters. Läs  artikel