Mali 'terror threat' warning given to Africa
Mali could become a home for terrorist groups which could threaten the region, France's president has warned.
Francois Hollande was reacting to the concerns of Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou over information relating to Islamist groups.
Mr Issoufou said he had information showing that Malian rebels were being trained by jihadists from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He said he intended to ask the UN to allow troops to be dispatched to Mali.
He said West African countries would ask the UN Security Council to provide oversee an operation with logistical assistance from France and the United States.
President Hollande said he would support the move, but that Niger and its neighbours must take the lead.
"If an intervention is decided upon, it's for the Africans to lead it - France, like other powers, putting themselves at the service of the United Nations," Mr Hollande said, according to the AFP news agency.
"There is outside intervention that is destabilising Mali and setting up groups whose vocation goes well beyond Mali, in Africa and perhaps beyond," he said.
As the the former colonial power, France retains strong ties to both Mali and neighbouring Niger.
President Issoufou last week said he had information that Nigerian militant group Boko Haram had received training in Mali.
A military coup took place in Mali in March 2012, and a breakaway state was claimed in the north of the country the following month by two rebel groups, one of which is alleged to have ties to al-Qaeda.
President Issoufou said he intended to deploy troops in this northern area.
Reuters said any action would be under a "Chapter 7" mandate, which allows the UN Security Council to authorise actions such as sanctions and military interventions.
It said the cost of a mission could be more than $200m (£130m).