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Nigeria to keep troops in Mali until crisis resolved

GENEVA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said on Tuesday his country's troops would stay in Mali to support military operations against al Qaeda-linked rebels until the crisis there was resolved.

Nigeria plans to deploy up to 1,200 troops as part of a West African intervention force to support French troops battling Islamist militants in the Sahara.

Allied French and West African forces are seeking to drive the rebels out of northern Mali, which they seized from government forces after a coup last year left a power vacuum.

"We cannot pull out until we have solved the problem. I cannot tell you when we will solve the problem, but Nigeria is totally committed and we remain committed until the crisis is resolved," he told Reuters in an interview in Geneva.

As well as deploying troops, Nigeria also has warplanes in neighboring Niger ready for missions in Mali.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Additional reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by Tim Cocks)

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