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Germany Suspends Elements of Military Mission in Mali

FILE - German soldiers during a patrol on the route from Gao to Gossi, Mali, August 2, 2018.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a statement that because Malian leaders of the U.N. mission to Mali, MINUSMA, denied overflight rights, the German mission must stop all reconnaissance and transport operations until further notice.

The comments from Lambrecht were posted Friday to the defense ministry’s Twitter account.

In them, Lambrecht said she had spoken with Malian Defense Minister Sadio Camara, “to describe to him the irritations” about problems with denial of flight permissions.

Lambrecht also said that “Germany can only stay involved with MINUSMA in Mali if this doesn't happen again and we are welcome in the country.”

Germany provides more than 1,000 soldiers to the U.N. mission to Mali.

There was no immediate comment from Malian and MINUSMA officials.

The episode is another sign of tension between Mali’s military rulers and foreign military forces stationed in Mali to help stabilize the country.

In July, Mali arrested 49 soldiers from Ivory Coast who came to Mali to support a U.N. contingent, calling them “mercenaries.” After MINUSMA spokesperson Olivier Salgado said on Twitter that Mali had been notified of the soldiers’ arrival, he was expelled from the country.

French forces are in the final stages of withdrawing from Mali, following increasing tensions with the government and concerns over Mali working with mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company with ties to the Kremlin. The government has said it works only with official Russian instructors.

Earlier this week, Mali received a shipment of military aircraft from Russia, the latest of multiple shipments of aircraft and weapons from the country’s new ally in the decade-long fight against Islamist insurgents.