This post is also available in: French
I want to talk today about the events of the last few days in Africa, starting by saying that our thoughts go to the families of the French soldiers and the hostage who have lost their lives in Mali and in Somalia.
Written version (continued)
We in the UK have been through similar difficult moments and we understand how tough that is for families, for friends, for everyone concerned including the political leaders who have to take these difficult decisions.
Britain supports the French action in Mali. We are absolutely clear that the threat of Mali disintegrating into a terrorist-dominated state is not one that we can accept. We have a UN Resolution and we have a lot of support from Mali’s neighbours in Africa for the military action and we think that France was right to act quickly.
The Prime Minister has made that clear to President Hollande in a phone call at the week end, and when the French asked us for logistic help, for help with air transport in getting material to Mali for their own forces, we responded very rapidly. Within 24 hours of the request we had one of our large C-17 airlift planes in Evreux loading equipment and vehicles to go to Bamako, and there is a second plane due in today.
These aircraft, and we have very few of them, we are using all the time for Afghanistan, but we wanted to respond fast to the French request for help. This is a very concrete example of UK-French defence cooperation, as we launched in Lancaster House 2 years ago. It is a way of showing in practical terms that we are alongside the French and that we want to see this rapidly brought to a conclusion, and we want to see the arrival of African forces and stability restored in Mali.
As for the hostage rescue attempt in Somalia, we think the French authorities were absolutely right to do everything possible to find a solution, to find the hostage alive and well and we are very sad for them that the rescue attempt did not work. But we can never give in to those who take hostages and try to use that against us.