WASHINGTON Jan 11 The Pentagon is weighing
options in Mali, including intelligence-sharing with France and
logistics support, following French air strikes on Friday
against Islamist rebels, a U.S. official told Reuters.
"Discussions are ongoing," the official said on condition of
Western governments, particularly Mali's former colonial
power, France, voiced alarm after the al Qaeda-linked rebel
alliance captured the central Malian town of Konna on Thursday,
a gateway to the capital, Bamako, 375 miles (600 km) farther
France has confirmed air strikes against the rebels, but
declined to offer further details of the intervention - such as
whether French troops were on the ground - while it was in
progress, so as to limit the rebels' knowledge of the operation.
No further details were immediately available on options
being considered by the United States, which is balancing its
deep concerns about al Qaeda in the region with deep wariness of
being dragged into another conflict after 11 years of non-stop
Speaking earlier on Friday at the State Department,
spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Mali had not yet asked for
direct support and that she was unaware of such a request from
"We are obviously consulting very closely with the
government of France going forward," Nuland said.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for
"accelerated international engagement" and said the bloc would
speed up plans to deploy 200 troops to train Malian forces,
initially expected in late February.
Military analysts voiced doubt whether Friday's action
heralded the start of a final operation to retake northern Mali
- a harsh, sparsely populated terrain the size of France - as
the equipment and ground troops are not ready.