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Terrorism, Immigration, Eurozone Debt Top Malta Agenda

  • Lisa Bryant

French President Francois Hollande addresses the press as he attends a Mediterranean summit of southern European and North African countries, in Valletta, Malta, October 5, 2012.

French President Francois Hollande addresses the press as he attends a Mediterranean summit of southern European and North African countries, in Valletta, Malta, October 5, 2012.

French President Francois Hollande is injecting new urgency into talk of military intervention in Mali, at a time when West African states seek U.N. backing for such a move. The French leader talked to the press on the sidelines of the first meeting of Mediterranean-area nations since last year's Arab uprising.

President Francois Hollande expressed confidence that a United Nations resolution would be adopted shortly, clearing the way for West African-led military intervention in northern Mali.

While al-Qaida linked Islamists are in control of Mali's troubled north, Hollande said it is still possible for dialogue with other groups in the region that did not embrace terrorism or independence. But, he said, military intervention is the priority.

Hollande's remarks came during a summit of five European and five North African countries. The meeting in Malta, which ends Saturday, tackles issues ranging from insecurity and terrorism, to immigration and the eurozone debt crisis.

Hollande named security as among the three priorities for cooperation among the Mediterranean states. The others are energy and transportation, and North Africa's youth, who have immigrated in droves to Europe because of a lack of opportunities at home.

Like the French leader, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also targeted insecurity in Africa's turbulent Sahel region.

Barroso said stability is a key ingredient for consolidating open, democratic societies in a region that has been buffeted not only by the "Arab Spring" uprisings, but also chaos and armed struggle as is the case with Mali. He said both Europe and North Africa must avoid the rise of what he called a "new Afghanistan."

Europe's financial problems were also on the menu. Many of the European leaders attending the summit - notably from Spain, Portugal and Italy - are struggling with massive public debts and deficits. In a joint statement, the Europeans called for a single European Union banking supervision body that would be operational as of January.
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