Mali peace talks postponed to September 1

AFP
Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop (C) chairs a meeting on peace talks attended by Mali's various warring factions, on July 16, 2014 in the Algerian capital Algiers
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Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop (C) chairs a meeting on peace talks attended by Mali's various warring factions, on July 16, 2014 in the Algerian capital Algiers (AFP Photo/Farouk Batiche)

Algiers (AFP) - Peace talks between the Malian government and mainly Tuareg rebels will not resume until September 1 after both sides asked for more time to prepare, mediator Algeria said on Wednesday.

The substantive round of negotiations had been due to open in mid-August under a timetable agreed in preliminary talks in Algiers in July.

Its postponement came in response to "the request of the Malian sides who asked for sufficient time to complete their consultations and preparations."

Bamako and the six rebel groups -- most Tuareg but some Arab -- signed a preliminary accord on July 24 which set out a roadmap for the negotiations.

A ceasefire has been in force since May when the rebels seized a large swathe of northern Mali in a major offensive.

The talks are aimed at reaching a lasting peace agreement by the autumn which will give the Tuareg and Arab minorities of the desert north considerable autonomy but deny them outright secession.

The minorities' decades-old grievances leapt into the international limelight in 2012 when they were exploited by jihadist groups to capture much of northern Mali.

The jihadists were forced out in a French-led military intervention the following year but the grievances remain.

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