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Dempsey: France formally asks for U.S. aid in Mali

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The French government has formally requested U.S. military assistance to combat al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the American Forces Press Service on Thursday.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who is traveling in Europe this week, said France asked the U.S. for assistance with planning assistance, logistics and airlift for French troops — not lethal force.

Gen. Dempsey said U.S. planners already have begun working with their French allies, and that the State Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Council will address the request and provide whatever assistance they can.

"Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a threat not only to the country of Mali, but the region, and if left unaddressed, could in fact become a global threat," he said.

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