ALGIERS, Algeria — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Algeria on Monday as the United States sought to coordinate support for an emerging international effort to push Islamic militants out of northern Mali.
“One of the things that the secretary wants to talk about is how we would see this working," a senior State Department official said before a scheduled meeting between Clinton and the Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
An array of Islamist militant groups have seized control of northern Mali, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The area has emerged as a haven for terrorists.
Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution underscoring its “readiness" to send an international force to evict the militants in response to a request from the Mali government.
While a military plan has yet to be drafted, the basic idea is for forces from Nigeria and other West Africa countries to help Mali’s military mount a campaign against the militants. France, the U.S. and other countries would help with training, intelligence and logistics.
U.S. and French officials have met in Paris to discuss how to cope with the security situation in Mali, and Clinton’s trip to Algeria follows a similar visit by France’s foreign minister.
U.S. officials indicated that they were not asking Algeria to send troops to Mali but wanted to discuss the role it might play while West Africans and Mali’s military provide the “boots on the ground." Algeria is a regional power and Mali’s neighbor to the north, and its political support for such a campaign is essential, diplomats say.