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Mali Government Signs Peace Deal While Rebels Delay

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, left, shakes hands with representatives of Malian armed rebel groups at the end of a peace agreement ceremony in the Algerian capital Algiers, March 1, 2015.

Mali's government signed a preliminary peace deal with some of the country's northern separatists groups, but the main Tuareg rebel alliance has asked for more time for consultations before agreeing to the accord.

Members of the Tuareg rebel alliance, which includes the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, attended Sunday's signing ceremony in the Algerian capital, Algiers. Alliance representatives said they would continue with dialogue, adding that a "reasonable delay" was requested.

The United Nations-brokered deal is aimed at ending decades of instability in northern Mali.

Tuareg rebel groups are seeking autonomy for the region.

Mali has been unstable since Tuareg fighters launched a new insurgency at the start of 2012 -- an event that triggered a coup in Bamako, a takeover of the north by Islamist militants, and the intervention of French and African forces in early 2013.

The two sides agreed to a roadmap toward negotiations in July 2014.

Some material for this report came from AFP and Reuters.