France cancels $71 mln of debt owed by Mali

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BAMAKO – French Finance Minister Michel Sapin announced on Thursday that Paris had cancelled 43 billion CFA francs ($71 million) worth of debt owed by Mali.

“France wishes support Mali more to cope with a debt that is an old debt and sometimes difficult to manage,” Sapin said following a meeting with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

Sapin gave no further details of the agreement and it was not immediately clear what portion of Mali’s overall debt to France the amount represented.
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The West African nation is emerging from a 2012 crisis that saw soldiers, angered by the government’s handling of a Tuareg separatist uprising, stage a that then allowed al Qaeda-linked groups to seize the desert north.

A French-led intervention pushed back the Islamists a year later, but the remnants of the groups continue to carry out regular attacks, mainly the north.

($1 = 605.9600 CFA francs)(Reuters)