U.S. steps up involvement in Mali
A Malian soldier stands amid debris Saturday, January 26, in the key central town of Konna, which has been under French and Malian army control since last week. It was taken on January 11 by Islamist groups.
January 28th, 2013
04:36 AM ET

U.S. steps up involvement in Mali

By Ingrid Formanek and Dana Ford

The United States is intensifying its involvement in Mali, where local and French forces are battling Islamic militants.

It will support the French military by conducting aerial refueling missions, according to the Pentagon, which released a short statement Saturday following a call between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"The leaders also discussed plans for the United States to transport troops from African nations, including Chad and Togo, to support the international effort in Mali. Secretary Panetta and Minister Le Drian resolved to remain in close contact as aggressive operations against terrorist networks in Mali are ongoing," it read.

U.S. policy prohibits direct military aid to Mali because the fledgling government is the result of a coup. No support can go to the Malian military directly until leaders are chosen through an election.

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Filed under: Mali • Panetta