One of the key militant Islamist groups operating in Mali has said it is ready for talks with the Malian government “to end the bloody conflict”, according to a statement seen by the security research consultancy Menastream.
The al-Qaeda-linked Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) has, however, said it will only take part in negotiations if French troops leave the country.
Last month Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced talks with JNIM leaders Iyad Ag Ghali and Amadou Koufa.
Local rights groups and media welcomed the development.
This development comes at a time when JNIM appears to be losing ground to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, with local media reports indicating that JNIM fighters have been defecting to IS.