World Bulletin / News Desk
Three groups from the north of Mali agreed to begin talks with government as the UN gives warning on regional instability.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) signed the Algiers Declaration on Sunday, demanding "inclusive" talks with the Bamako government to begin peace talks aimed at resolving long-standing disputes in the country.
In the declaration, the groups agreed to engage with the government on the path of "dialogue and negotiations", in exchange for the release of prisoners and better conditions for the return of refugees.
The head of the UN Mission in Mali, Albert Gerard Koenders, had warned the entire region was in danger if peace was not restored to the north.
"The region will be in danger if there is no reconciliation," state television quoted Koenders as saying.
Ban said armed groups operating in the north posed a significant threat to civilians, UN peacekeepers and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Following a military coup in 2012, the troubled north fell under control of ethnic Tuareg separatists and then al-Qaeda-linked fighters.