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U.S. rejects independence of northern Mali

04-07-2012 09:28 BJT

WASHINGTON, April 6 (Xinhua) -- The United States said on Friday that it does not recognize the announced independence of northern Mali but rather supports the territorial integrity of the West African nation.

"We do not recognize the statement by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) announcing independence as valid, and we reiterate our support for the territorial integrity of Mali, " State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"We stand by the African Union, France and others in their statements rejecting the MNLA's announcement and calling for the unwavering commitment to the national unity of Mali," the spokesman said in a written statement.

The rebels on Friday declared the independence of northern Mali, a desert homeland they call Azawad for which they have been fighting over decades, as the country had been divided into a rebel-controlled north and a junta-controlled south following the unexpected coup by some soldiers on March 22.

The United States has joined African nations in pressing the junta to return the constitutional order by suspending part of aid and imposing a travel ban on the mutineers and their family members.

"A separate Azawad state will only exacerbate the grave problems challenging the Malian state," Toner said. He urged the MNLA to cease all military operations.

While proclaiming independence, the MNLA said it was halting all military operations from midnight Thursday as a result of their successful conquest of Azawad.

"We urge all armed groups to engage in dialogue with civilian leaders in Bamako to find a nonviolent path forward for national elections and a peaceful coexistence," Toner said.

Editor:Liu Fang |Source: Xinhua

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