Jeddah: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, of which Mali is a member, called on Tuesday for a ceasefire in the African country where French troops have intervened to battle Islamists.
       
OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the military offensive is "premature" and called for "an immediate ceasefire in Mali and for all parties to go back to the negotiations which were led by Burkina Faso" in December, in a statement.
       
Ihsanoglu, who "expressed his deep concern over the military escalation" also called for "maximum self-restraint from all parties at this critical time in order to reach a peaceful solution to this conflict," the statement said.
       
France launched air strikes on Friday to back the Malian army in an operation against Islamist rebels and has sent troops into the West African nation.
       
It has secured fresh UN backing for its military action and reinforced its ground forces with an armoured column after driving Islamists from their northern bases with air strikes.
       
A meeting of the 15-nation UN Security Council on Mali expressed unanimous "understanding and support" for the military intervention, France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters on Monday.

(Agencies)

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