France upset at Spain for dragging its heels in Mali operation

Ministry's reaction to the French-led offensive has been criticized as other countries readily step in

Togolese soldiers arrived in the Malian capital Bamako on January 17, as part of more than 3,000 soldiers pledged by African nations to back the French-led offensive. / FRED DUFOUR (AFP)

France is perturbed by Spain's "tardiness" in providing logistical support and aid for the French military intervention in Mali, diplomatic sources said Thursday.

Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés offered his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian a transport plane to help fly in ECOWAS support troops to the West African nation, as well as the use of Spain's airspace. But this offer came after three phone calls were made to the Spanish defense chief asking for help, sources said.

As opposed to other European allies, who automatically said they would furnish France with whatever help it needed, Spain, according to diplomats, was considerably less forthcoming. Its offer to provide a single transport plane matched the aid Denmark - a nation with a population nine times smaller than Spain - has contributed to the military operation.

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