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US drops demand for April elections in Mali

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is softening its stance on Mali's need to hold elections in April.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the West African country, beset by an Islamist rebellion, requires security and political solutions.

But on April elections, Nuland said Monday the U.S. is "not going to prejudge whether security is going to be restored in a manner that's going to enable that."

She urged a "national unity conversation" and more security work so "elections can go forward as soon as possible."

Mali's democratic government was ousted last year and France is helping it fight al-Qaida-linked militants in the north.

The U.S. is helping France, but long demanded speedy political progress, too.

Two weeks ago, Nuland said "it's in the interest of Mali" to hold to the April timetable.

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