Putin discusses Niger crisis with Malian leader -Kremlin

(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday held a phone call with the interim leader of Mali, Assimi Goita, and discussed topics including anti-terrorism efforts and the crisis in Mali’s neighbour Niger, the Kremlin said in a statement.

According to the statement, the two leaders agreed that the crisis in Niger, where a July coup ousted President Mohammed Bazoum, could only be resolved by diplomatic means.

West Africa’s main regional bloc, The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has previously threatened military intervention to restore Bazoum to power.

The ruling military junta in Mali has warned against outside intervention in Niger, and has also developed a close relationship with Russia, with Moscow’s Wagner Group mercenary force deployed in the country.

(Reporting by Felix Light; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Sharon Singleton)