The United Nations Security Council has expressed "deep concern at the increased terrorist threat" in northern Mali, saying elements of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and extremist elements are among rebels who have seized much of the north.
In a statement late Monday, the Security Council demanded an end to all hostilities in the north by rebel groups and said it remains worried about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Mali.
The United States has commended the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, for brokering an agreement with junta leaders and restoring civilian rule.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday the deal is a "very good step" for Mali.
"We wanted civilian rule re-established so that dialogue can now commence with the Tuaregs that redresses their grievances within a unified Mali, and real effort can be made to secure the country against the AQ elements that have taken advantage," she said.
Nuland said the United States will watch in the coming days to see if enough progress has been made to restore non-humanitarian aid it cut off last month.
The Security Council urged all parties to implement the transitional agreement immediately and to seek a peaceful solution through dialogue.
The military coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, held talks Monday with Dioncounda Traore, the former Malian speaker of parliament who will serve as president of the transitional government until elections are held.
Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure submitted his resignation Sunday, weeks after being toppled by the coup. He said he stepped down without pressure and out of love for the country.
ECOWAS has pledged to help Mali fight the Tuareg rebels who proclaimed an independent state in the north following the military coup.
The coup leaders justified their takeover by denouncing what they said was the former government's ineffectual campaign to suppress the Tuareg rebellion.
Mali's neighbors all criticized both the military coup and the new "Azawad" state declared by the northern rebels, who got help from the radical Islamist group Ansar Dine.
The self-styled National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) controls the cities of Timbuktu, Gao and other areas in the north. It declared its independence Friday and said its military campaign is over. The heavily armed Tuaregs, formerly based in Moammar Gadhafi's Libya, began fighting in northern Mali in January.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.