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Kouchner vows to fight Islamists after killing of French hostage

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said after talks with Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Monday that France would fight Islamic extremism in the region following the killing of a French hostage by an al Qaeda group.


AFP - Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner pledged on Monday that France would keep working with Mauritania to fight Islamic extremists after an Al-Qaeda group announced the killing of a French hostage.

Kouchner was speaking from Nouakchott after talks with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz over the crisis provoked by the killing in Mali by an al-Qaeda group of French hostage Michel Germaneau.

"Our joint efforts will continue, the fight risks beging long but we will continue it," he said.

"It is a difficult struggle that your country has taken on," he told his hosts.

"Mauritania can count on the support of France in its fight against extremism," he added, recalling that the two countries had already signed agreements to that effect.

"The Sahel-Saharan strip will not be left to bands of terrorists, to arms arms and drugs traffickers," he added.

Kouchner was due later Monday at the French embassy to meet members of the French community there before heading on to neighbouring Mali and later Niger, where AQIM is also active and where the elderly aid worker was kidnapped.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday announced Kouchner's visit, after the execution on Saturday in Mali of Germaneau, 78, by Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which had held him since April.

The execution followed a failed bid by French and Mauritanian troops to rescue Germaneau, when they launched a raid in the Malian desert against an AQIM group.

President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to avenge the murder of Germaneau in a statement issued Monday.

He also warned French nationals to avoid the troubled Sahel desert region running through Mauritania, Mali, Niger and southern Algeria.


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