"We had an in-depth discussion of the region, particularly the situation in Mali," Clinton told reporters after the meeting. "I very much appreciated the President’s analysis, based on his long experience, as to the many complicated factors that have to be addressed to deal with the internal insecurity in Mali and the terrorist and drug trafficking threat that is posed to the region and beyond. And we have agreed to continue with in-depth expert discussions, to work together bilaterally and with the region – along with the United Nations, and the African Union, and ECOWAS (the Economic Community Of West African States) – to determine the most effective approaches that we should be taking."
As a sign of U.S. policymakers' increasing concern, Mali even made a surprise appearance during the third presidential debate last week.
“Mali has been taken over, the northern part of Mali, by al Qaeda-type individuals,” Mitt Romney said when asked if President Obama's foreign policy was “unraveling.” “With Mali now having North Mali taken over by al Qaeda, with Syria having Assad continuing to — or to kill — to murder his own people, this is a region in tumult. And of course Iran on the path to a nuclear weapon. We’ve got real gaps in the region.”