Mali: UN mission to reach full strength by July

MOPTI, Mali (AP) — France's ambassador to the United Nations says Mali's peacekeeping mission will reach full troop strength in July, one year after it took over peacekeeping activities.

Gerard Araud announced the timeline Sunday while leading a 15-member delegation from the U.N. Security Council on a two-day visit in Mali. The mission is supposed to have 12,000 uniformed personnel, but as of last month only 6,400 military personnel and police had deployed.

Mali's northern half fell to Tuareg separatists and then al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists following a March 2012 military coup, prompting a French-led intervention in January 2013. Though the country held successful presidential and legislative elections last year, security in the north remains precarious.

One objective of the Security Council visit is to accelerate peace talks with all communities in northern Mali.

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