BAMAKO (Reuters) - Niger has authorised Mali and Burkina Faso's armed forces to intervene on its territory in case of an attack, the countries said in a joint statement on Thursday, a possible sign the junta in Niger plans to keep resisting regional pressure to stand down.
The main West African bloc ECOWAS has been trying to negotiate with the coup leaders but warned it is ready to send troops into Niger to restore constitutional order if diplomatic efforts fail.
Any escalation risks further destabilising the insurgency-torn region as Niger's junta-led neighbours, Mali and Burkina Faso, have said they would back Niger in any conflict with ECOWAS.
On Thursday, the three allies' foreign ministers said they had met in the Nigerien capital Niamey to discuss boosting cooperation on security and other joint issues.
The statement said the ministers welcomed the signing on Thursday by Niger junta leader General Abdourahamane Tiani of two orders "authorising the Defense and Security Forces of Burkina Faso and Mali to intervene on Nigerien territory in the event of an attack."
"The Burkinabe and Malian Ministers ... reiterated their rejection of an armed intervention against the people of Niger which will be considered as a declaration of war," it said.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Sandra Maler)