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Mali's new president visits France despite continued violence at home

French President François Hollande (L) and Mali's Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in Bamako earlier this month
French President François Hollande (L) and Mali's Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in Bamako earlier this month Reuters/Michel Euler/Pool

Mali's new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita started an official visit to France on Sunday despite new violence in the north of the country. IBK, as he is popularly known, was due to meet French President François Hollande on Tuesday morning but there was speculation that his trip might be cut short.

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As well as dicussing with Hollande, who attended his investiture ceremony on 19 September, Keita was to dine with Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius in the evening and, according to French political sources, he was to meet the parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Dossier: War in Mali

But the visit has so far been low profile and journalists believe that it could be cut short because of violence on northern Mali, the region that was seized by Islamists and Tuareg separatists until the French-led offensive that reestablished Malian government control.

On Monday there were clashes between the Tuareg Mouvement National de Libération de l'Azawad (MNLA) and Malian troops in the northern city of Kidal for the second day running.

On Sunday the two sides clashed outside a bank that the soldiers were guarding, with both sides accusing the other of opening fire first.

On Saturday a suicide attack on an army camp at Tmbuktu killed two civilians as well as the four attackers and left six soldiers wounded.

And on Friday two Malian soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack outside the bank in Kidal.

Keita was elected on 11 August in a presidential election that both Paris and Bamako hoped would establish a credible post-war government.

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