France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Saturday discussed the many crises raging in Africa during talks with the leader of Benin, who is also the current president of the African Union.
Juppe, who is in Benin as part of an African tour after he attended a conference on Syria in Tunis on Friday, is scheduled to travel to Burkina Faso later Saturday and Mali on Sunday.
He told reporters that his talks with President Thomas Boni Yayi centred on the woes on the continent. Yayi assumed the rotating presidency of the African Union last month.
"If needed, we are ready to assist Benin in the course of this presidency; a heavy responsibility given the many crises on the continent.
"We discussed most of these crises, such as Somalia, and Mali where I'll go tomorrow," said the minister, who arrived late Friday in the small West African nation.
Tuareg rebels, demanding autonomy in northern Mali, are waging their biggest offensive since a 2009 rebellion.
They have launched several attacks on towns in the region since mid-January, forcing 126,400 people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.
Juppe said he will hold talks with Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure on ways to quickly end the crisis in the north of the country.
The French minister is on his fourth visit to west Africa since his appointment a year ago.© ANP/AFP