Excerpt from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: The interim Prime Minister is resigned after being picked up by some soldiers. Give us your thoughts about that and what it speaks to the political process in Mali right now.
MS. NULAND: Well, as Scott has - guys? Are we back on North Korea over there? Can we just keep on Mali for the moment? Yeah.
Well, as Scott has made clear, last night Malian interim Prime Minister Diarra was abducted by security forces loyal to the junta leader, Captain Sanogo. He was forced to resign and to dissolve the cabinet. We understand that he has now been released and is currently with his family. We condemn this act by the military junta and insist that it halt its continued interference in Malian political affairs and government. We view this event as a setback for Mali's transition and its efforts to try to restore constitutional order and democratic government. The events of last night reinforce the need to get as quickly as possible to free and fair elections, ideally by April 23rd or as soon as it's technically feasible.
A popularly elected Government of Mali is critical to restoring that country's ability to control and defend its territory. So that is a matter of extreme concern, and it speaks to why we've got to have a political solution in Mali going hand-in-hand with increased security.
QUESTION: As you know, it took quite a while to come up with this interim government. So do you want Mr. Diarra reappointed, or do you say that someone else should take his place quickly?
MS. NULAND: Well, that's a call for the interim President to make. He can either reinstate Mr. Diarra, or he can appoint a new prime minister and government. But there has to be an interim set of political authorities. And first and foremost, we need Sanogo and his brothers in arms to stay out of politics, because it's not helping.
QUESTION: Do you think that this event may mean that any discussion that's underway on planning for potential intervention in the north should be frozen until this political situation in Bamako is resolved?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think we see them as mutually reinforcing. We need to continue to move forward on what the security arrangements are going to be to enforce - to reinforce the legitimate military authorities in Mali who clearly are going to need more help. I think the UNSC conversations probably will go into tomorrow now, as folks look to sort this through. But we also need to see the political track reinstated in an interim way. But the two things have to go hand-in-hand, as we've been saying for some time.
QUESTION: The French appear to have a quite a bit quicker timeline in mind than the U.S. does as far as intervention plan goes, and they're saying that this arrest shows that the intervention should take place sooner rather than later. Do you agree? Are you at odds with France on a timeline here?
MS. NULAND: I don't think so. We're working well in the Security Council now, and I think you'll see some decisions this week, probably.
QUESTION: Decisions --
MS. NULAND: Still on Mali?
QUESTION: Decisions on --
MS. NULAND: In New York.
QUESTION: -- in the intervention - on the intervention?
MS. NULAND: Decisions in terms of the Council coming together on what needs to happen next.
QUESTION: Because the French have been pretty vocal in saying that you're not on the same page on this, so I don't --
MS. NULAND: We've had very good discussions over the last 24 hours, Matt. I think we're coming --
QUESTION: So in other words, the differences that existed you think are now --
MS. NULAND: I think we've been able to work things through, yeah. That's my --
QUESTION: So there were differences?
MS. NULAND: Again, I'm going to send you to New York for details. But my understanding from New York today is that we are working things through today; that obviously, given the events of last night, you may not see action today, but you'll probably see action this week.
Still on Mali? No. Go ahead.