France won't stay in Mali if price is too high -defence minister

FILE PHOTO: European Union countries' Defence Ministers meet in Brest
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PARIS (Reuters) - European states combating Islamist militants in Mali will try to find a way to keep their mission going, but there are limits to the price that France is prepared to pay to remain there, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Saturday.

Relations between Mali's military junta and its international partners are close to breaking down after it failed to organise an election following two military coups.

On Wednesday, the junta told France to stop interfering in the affairs of its former colony and to keep its "colonial reflexes" to itself.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that the situation had become untenable, as the European allies agreed to draw up plans within two weeks on how to adapt their campaign, which covers Mali and the wider Sahel region, to changing circumstances.

"The conditions of our intervention, whether military, economic or political, have become harder and harder to manage," Parly said.

"In short, we are not prepared to pay an unlimited price to remain in Mali."

But she said the ministers from the 15 countries involved in the European special force were for now united in wanting to maintain the mission, "so we must determine its new conditions."

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by John Stonestreet)

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