Mali

US Defense Officials See Lengthy Effort to Stabilize Mali

Sounds like a real good reason to stay away

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U.S. defense officials said a French military campaign against extremist rebels in Mali will be a time-consuming effort, and have yet to decide on specific steps to take in support of the intervention.

While France has carried out airstrikes since last week against Islamist militants in northern Mali, rebels and al Qaeda-aligned groups continued to advance on government-controlled towns.

U.S. officials predicted that the French campaign, with military support from Mali's neighbors, would drive back al Qaeda.

"Our hope is that ultimately they will be able to succeed in establishing better security in Mali," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in Lisbon, on a trip during which he will confer with European allies.