Germany suspends participation in Mali military mission

BERLIN (AP) — Germany announced Friday that it was suspending its participation in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali after the West African nation refused to grant a civilian aircraft carrying German troops permission to use its airspace.

The flight was part of a troop rotation, and German officials said it was not the first time Mali has denied overflight permission.

Germany’s defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, alleged her Malian counterpart, Sadio Camara, had not adhered to agreements. German troops will now focus on ensuring their own security, her ministry said.

“Camaras’ actions speak a different language than his words,” Lambrecht said “We must therefore take measures and suspend the operation of our reconnaissance forces and transport flights (with helicopters) until further notice.”

Germany announced earlier in the year that it was drawing down its participation in a European Union military mission in Mali after France pulled out. But Germany continued to provide troops to the U.N.’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in the West African nation.

Like France, Germany has expressed misgivings about the presence of Russian mercenaries in Mali.

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Berlin was willing to continue participating in the U.N. mission in Mali.

“But such a deployment only makes sense if it has the support of the government there,” he said.

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