Mali summons Spanish ambassador over FM statements
The Malian government summoned Spain's ambassador to the West African state over statements made by Madrid's top diplomat.
The Malian Foreign Ministry summoned the Spanish ambassador to the country to protest statements made by Madrid's Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, due to the diplomat not ruling out a NATO mission in Mali, Bamako's Foreign Minister, Abdoulaye Diop said in a said on Saturday.
"I must say that today we summoned the Spanish ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to express a strong protest in connection with the words of Jose Manuel Albares," the Malian aBamako news portal quoted the minister as saying.
The ambassador was summoned on Friday, the news outlet revealed, just a day after the Spanish Foreign Minister made his provocative statements.
Albares on Thursday told the RNE radio station that he did not rule out the possibility of a NATO mission in Mali, adding that this issue was not on the agenda of the alliance's summit in Madrid.
The Spanish agency Europa Press reported, citing sources, that in response, Albares assured that Madrid never demanded a NATO invasion of Mali, noting that there were deep friendly ties between Spain and the West African nation.
Mali and Europe have been having tense relations over the period, especially after the Malian armed forces entered in late April a former French military base in the town of Gossi and reportedly discovered a mass grave, which is said to be the site of a massacre that killed 203. The French authorities have denied any involvement in the burials and insisted they were staged by the Russians, which is a claim heavily disputed by the locals and Moscow alike.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it supported Mali's intent to launch an investigation into France over the mass graves.
France had sent troops to the western African country in 2013, with the stated goal of defeating jihadists in northern Mali and the Sahel. The operation ended in February following the deterioration of France's ties with its former colony.