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Our troops are in Mali on ‘clear invitation’ – Denmark

Denmark says its troops deployed to Mali as part of a French-led counter-terrorism task force are there on the basis of a “clear invitation”.

The government in Copenhagen was on Tuesday responding to the Malian transitional government’s continued demands for the immediate withdrawal of Danish forces.

Reuters on Tuesday reported what it called a “puzzled response” to Mali’s initial statement on Sunday, which said Bamako had not been consulted about the deployment last week of about 90 Danish personnel, including special forces and surgeons.

The European force, known as Takuba, was set up to help Mali and West African Sahel neighbours, Burkina Faso and Niger, tackle militants linked to the Islamic State and al Qaeda, who have occupied swathes of territory in the area where their borders meet.

Speaking in Brussels, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said his country’s troops were in Mali on the basis of a clear invitation, “just like the other parties in the operation”.

Denmark’s foreign ministry said there was “considerable uncertainty about Mali’s transitional government’s announcement” and that it was in contact with Mali’s government.

Former colonial power France also rejected as “unfounded” Mali’s allegations and said it was discussing the situation with its European partners.

Addressing reporters after a meeting with the chair of the African Union Commission, Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga insisted the government had not been informed of the deployment.

“We don’t accept it. No one will come to Mali anymore by proxy,” Mr Maiga said. “Why have they come? Is it because they are preparing something against the country?”

Mr Kofod of Denmark also criticised the alleged presence of Russian mercenaries in Mali, calling it “highly problematic”.

A recent Reuters report says tensions have escalated in the beleaguered West African country over allegations that its transitional government has deployed private military contractors from the Russia-backed Wagner Group, which some EU countries have said is incompatible with their mission.

There has also been disagreement between Mali and international partners, including regional bodies and the EU, which have sanctioned Mali over the transitional government’s failure to organise elections following two military coups.

Editing by Tony Okerafor