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US seeks Algeria’s support in possible Mali action

ALGIERS — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Algeria’s assistance on Monday for any future military intervention in Mali, pressing the North African nation to provide intelligence — if not boots on the ground — to help rout the Al Qaeda-linked militants across its southern border.

Clinton, on the first stop of a five-day trip overseas, met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as the United States and its allies stepped up preparations to fight northern Mali’s breakaway Islamist republic.

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When Mali’s democratically elected leader was ousted in a military coup in March, Tuareg rebels seized on the power vacuum and within weeks took control of the north, aided by an Islamist faction. The Islamists ousted the Tuaregs and took control of half the country.

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved the idea of an African-led military force to help the Malian army oust Islamic militants, but its details are still unclear.

One plan would see Mali’s embattled government in the south and its West African neighbors taking the military lead to battle with the militants, with the United States and European countries in support.

Clinton said she and Bouteflika spoke at length about Mali, with the Algerian leader appearing to caution against any rash action.

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