European states combating terrorists in Mali will try to find a way to keep their mission going, but there are limits to the price that France is prepared to pay to remain there, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Saturday.
Relations between Mali’s military junta and its international partners are close to breaking down after it failed to organise an election following two military coups.
On Wednesday, the junta told France to stop interfering in the affairs of its former colony and to keep its “colonial reflexes” to itself.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that the situation had become untenable, as the European allies agreed to draw up plans within two weeks on how to adapt their campaign, which covers Mali and the wider Sahel region, to changing circumstances.
“The conditions of our intervention, whether military, economic or political, have become harder and harder to manage,” Parly said.
“In short, we are not prepared to pay an unlimited price to remain in Mali.”
But she said the ministers from the 15 countries involved in the European special force were for now united in wanting to maintain the mission, “so we must determine its new conditions.”
Mali explains why tensions with France are growing
Mali’s foreign minister says the main reason why tensions are growing with France is that the French believe his country is not acting in their interests.
Abdoulaye Diop dismissed French concerns about Mali’s alleged use of Russian mercenaries to fight Islamist insurgents.
He said Mali and Russia had been strong partners for years.
Mr Diop said France had no right to describe last year’s coup as illegitimate as it had good relationships with other countries with military rulers.