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Ousted Mali Leader at Senegal Embassy in Bamako

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) greets Senegal's newly-elected President Macky Sall at the Elysee Palace in Paris, April 18, 2012.
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) greets Senegal's newly-elected President Macky Sall at the Elysee Palace in Paris, April 18, 2012.
Lisa Bryant

Senegalese President Macky Sall says Mali's ousted leader Amadou Toumani Toure is being sheltered at Senegal's embassy in Bamako, Mali. Toure's whereabouts had been previously undisclosed. Sall spoke in the French capital, where he signed new defense and financial agreements during his first official visit.

Sall expressed concern about the security situation in West Africa, where Mali and Guinea Bissau have been shaken by coups.   

During a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Sall said through the regional body ECOWAS that West African nations are trying to find a rapid and peaceful solution to Mali's crisis. A coup there last month emboldened Tuareg rebels to seize control of the northern half of the country.

Sall's visit to Paris underscores longstanding ties between Senegal and former colonial power France. He and Sarkozy signed a new defense treaty along with a loan agreement from France worth about $170 billion.  

Sarkozy also said France would help Senegal unblock aid from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.

Sarkozy described a new chapter in French-Senegalese relations, marked by total transparency in defense agreements and cooperation in training and economic development. The time of colonialism is past, he said, adding that France wants to be Senegal's friend but not receive special treatment.

He also hailed recent democratic advances in the region, including Sall's election victory last month over incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade.

Growing insecurity in Mali and other parts of West Africa has alarmed the international community, which fears Islamist militants are profiting from the instability. Sarkozy renewed French offers of logistical assistance to fight terrorism in West Africa, a particularly sensitive issue for France, since the local branch of al-Qaida is holding six French hostages in the region.

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