Republican leader calls on Obama to honor French request for aid in Mali

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Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Monday the United States has a “responsibility” to help roll back the al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali. The Pentagon has yet to agree to requests for aerial refueling and troop transports, in part because the U.S. cut off military ties with Mali after last year's military coup.

“I welcome France taking the initiative to combat this serious security threat in North Africa,” Royce said. “The vast area of northern Mali gives these al Qaeda-linked militants space to operate, and the weapons flowing out of Libya makes them deadly. This cancer could not go unaddressed.

“This isn’t avant garde for the French. They have shown leadership in working with Ivory Coast and other African governments to improve security. Paris understands the high stakes.”