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Official: Rebels holding north Mali ready to talk

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A former minister identifying himself as the chief negotiator for Mali’s junta says the main rebel group that seized the north of the country is willing to hold discussions on the future of the country.

Former Cabinet minister Mohamed Ag Erlaf said by telephone on Tuesday that the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad is open to discussions.

However, an NMLA spokesman in Paris told France 24 TV late Monday that the rebels have had no direct contact with the junta which toppled Mali’s government March 21. Moussa Ag Attaher said they do not recognize coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo.

He said: "Neither the international community nor the population of Mali recognize him. If we are to negotiate, it needs to be with someone that is recognized."

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