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UN Leader, France Discuss Conflicts in Syria, Mali

  • Lisa Bryant

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon (R) is welcomed by Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, October 9, 2012.

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon (R) is welcomed by Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, October 9, 2012.

French President Francois Hollande and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are calling for a resolution to conflicts in northern Mali and Syria, with Hollande pushing for tougher sanctions against the Syrian government.

Speaking Tuesday morning in the French capital, Ban voiced alarm at the rising violence in Syria, and he issued another warning against those who aim to fuel it.

"At this time, I would urge again those countries who are providing arms to both sides should stop. Following this military equipment and also for the militarization will put the Syrian people only more miserable situations," said Ban. "And this is not an option. The only option available is a political resolution through political dialogue led by the Syrian people."

For his part, Hollande urged tougher sanctions against the Syrian government and raised concerns about the fallout of Syria's violence in Lebanon and Turkey.

Ban and Hollande also addressed another unstable area - Africa's Sahel region. Hollande pressed again for African military intervention in Mali, where radical Islamists have seized control of the north.

Hollande said he and Ban agree that African military intervention could take place fairly speedily once the Malian government asks for it, since no member of the U.N. Security Council would oppose it.

Ban also called on al-Qaida's North African branch to immediately free French hostages it seized in Niger two years ago. The Islamist group reportedly has threatened to kill them if France mounts a military intervention in northern Mali.

West African countries have accepted in principle the idea of sending a military force to that region, but critical details remain unsettled, including troop composition and financing.

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