US Might Step Up Involvement in Mali

Considers sending refueling planes for French jets: New York Times

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 26, 2013 11:00 AM CST

(Newser) – The US has provided modest tactical and intelligence aid to France so far in its fight against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Mali, but the New York Times reports that US officials are now considering a notable increase—sending in aerial refueling planes for French fighter jets. Talks have been under way for days, and the main US concern is a familiar one: It doesn't want to get entangled in another "open-ended mission," says one Pentagon official.

That concern illustrates a quandary for the White House, the Times points out: It loves the concept of what France has done—a country not named the United States taking charge of an international force—but it's also worried that France jumped in a little early. Expect a decision on the refueling planes soon. Separately, the US has asked Congress to approve $32 million to train African troops fighting the militants, reports AP. Meanwhile, French-led forces on the ground seized an airport inside militant territory today, reports the BBC.

Malian people welcome French soldiers as they arrive in the city of Sevare on Friday.
Malian people welcome French soldiers as they arrive in the city of Sevare on Friday.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian meets with French soldiers before their departure to Mali on Friday.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian meets with French soldiers before their departure to Mali on Friday.   (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
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