The U.N. Security Council met on Monday with representatives of armed Tuareg groups active in northern Mali as part of an effort to accelerate peace talks with the government, though participants said disagreements on conditions for the talks had not been resolved.
Tuareg rebels launched a rebellion in northern Mali in early 2012 that gave way to a military coup, allowing them to take control of the country’s north. However, al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists later took over much of the north, prompting France to launch a military intervention in early 2013.
Though Mali held successful presidential and legislative elections last year, security in the north remains precarious, and the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad in particular maintains a strong presence in and around the northern city of Kidal.
Despite the efforts of various mediators, negotiations between the armed groups in the north and the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita have stalled. Last month, Tuareg rebels withdrew from negotiations set to take place in Algeria after concluding that their push for greater autonomy would not be addressed. Authorities in Bamako are emphasizing a decentralization process that would bolster the Bamako-based government’s presence throughout the country.
One of the chief goals of the Security Council visit, which ended on Monday, was to accelerate peace talks with all groups in northern Mali.
The visiting U.N. delegation also met with local authorities and received briefings on the work of the country’s U.N. peacekeeping mission. On Sunday France’s U.N. ambassador Gerard Araud said the mission would reach its full operational capacity in July, one year after it took over peacekeeping activities.