Mali leaders agree to help from foreign troops

By the Associated Press | July 26, 2012 | 5:40 PM EDT

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Mali's military says the country would welcome a West African intervention force, not just to help recapture the north from rebels but also to assist in other parts of the country.

Chief of Staff Ibrahim Dembele said Thursday that the volatile country would agree to "security assistance," in addition to help in the north.

Ethnic Tuareg rebels took control of Mali's north after a coup in March, but have since been driven out by Islamist rebels who want to impose a strict version of Islamic law. An estimated 300,000 people have fled.

Dembele's comments came after a two-day emergency meeting of West African military chiefs of staff to discuss the proposed intervention.

A regional proposal for a 3,000-member military intervention force is still awaiting approval from the U.N. Security Council.