ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- Washington is backing a lead role for Algeria in promoting dialogue between the government of Mali and the rebels controlling Mali's north.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns described Algeria as the "leader" in conducting the dialogue during a press conference in Algiers late Thursday.
Mali rebel factions recently sent delegations to Algeria and Burkina Faso, whose president, Blaise Compaore, was appointed official negotiator by West African nations.
Algeria has always maintained great sway in northern Mali, though its role in negotiations has been unclear.
West African nations announced plans to help Mali reconquer the area through a military operation, but Algeria has expressed reservations about such a move.
Burns warned that intervention should take into account Mali's overlapping political, security and humanitarian crises.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.