EDITH M. LEDERER
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council on Monday welcomed agreement on a roadmap for negotiations between the Malian government and Tuareg separatists and called on both sides to engage in follow-up peace talks starting August 17.
The talks between the Bamako-based government and Tuareg separatists are aimed at restoring stability in northern Mali, which fell under the control of al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists in 2012. A French-led military intervention scattered the extremists last year but new bursts of violence in recent months are posing a new threat to Mali's central government.
The Security Council reiterated its strong concern about the fragile security situation in northern Mali in a presidential statement and called on the parties "to immediately and fully respect a cease-fire" signed on May 23. The council also reiterated its demand on all armed groups to reject violence and implement already agreed upon confidence-building measures.
The Algerian capital Algiers hosted peace talks from July 16-24 involving Malian government representatives, six Tuareg groups and officials from the United Nations, African Union, the regional group ECOWAS and the European Union. The talks resulted in the adoption of a roadmap by the parties.
The Security Council urged the parties to fully comply with the commitments in the roadmap, including by engaging in the comprehensive peace talks in Algiers starting Aug. 17.
"The Security Council underscored the importance of an inclusive and credible negotiation process open to all communities of the north" with the goal of resolving Mali's political crisis and securing long-term peace and stability throughout the country.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at a Security Council open meeting on U.N. peacekeeping, also congratulated the Malian parties on the adoption of the roadmap but said he remains deeply concerned about instability in the north. He also urged the parties to stop fighting.
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