Biden hails France's "decisive action" in Mali

Vice President Joe Biden, left, jokes with French President Francois Hollande as he leaves the Elysee Palace after their talks, in Paris, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013. AP Photo/Christophe Ena

As he continues his three-nation European tour, Vice President Joe Biden today praised France's military intervention in Mali to combat Islamic extremists who had largely taken control of the African nation.

During a press conference with French President Francois Hollande, Biden, speaking "on behalf of the president" and "the people of the United States," lauded France's "decisiveness - and, I might add, the incredible competence and capability of your French military forces.

"...Your decisive action is not only in the interest of France, but quite frankly the United States, and everyone," he continued.

Last week the White House asked Congress to approve an additional $32 million to train African troops to take control of the mission in Mali amid shared concern by the United States and France that the country is becoming a haven for terrorists, and in particular the new heart of al Qaeda.

Biden said he and President Obama "support the political process that France is leading to restore a democratic government in Mali," but reiterated the urgent need to establish "an African-led international mission to Mali, and to, as quickly as is prudent, transition that mission to the United Nations.

"The president indicated as well that we discussed the importance of working with our regional partners to counter terrorism across North Africa and beyond," the vice president continued. "We spent no little time discussing how terrorist organizations metastasized and why additional strategies will be necessary going into the future to deal with this new threat."

Biden also praised France's "strong stand" against Iran, having made it clear that "we mean business" in deterring the nation from its ambition to develop nuclear weapons.

"These are the most consequential sanctions, in no small part because of France's leadership, that have been imposed in the, oh, 40 years that I've been involved in international affairs," Biden said. "And they... must be followed through."

Today marks Biden's first trip to France as vice president. During his weekend swing, he also visited Germany and tomorrow will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London before flying back to D.C.

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