PARIS (AP) — French diplomats are meeting with a secular rebel group vying for control of northern Mali, and pressing the group to reconcile with the West African country's government.
The meeting in Paris on Thursday is with the NMLA, or National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad. The NMLA, seeking an independent state for the Tuareg people, has been sidelined by two radical Islamist groups that have the upper hand in northern Mali.
African nations and the U.N. are preparing for a possible military intervention amid fears the region will become a terrorist breeding ground. Efforts are also under way to reconcile Mali's conflicting groups.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot told an online briefing that the French diplomats are urging the rebels to renounce their bid for independence.