Egypt Thursday urged the west African regional bloc to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Mali, a Nigerian official said Thursday.
"All efforts should be exhausted to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict in northern Mali," Egyptian Vice President, Mahmoud Mekki was quoted as saying in talks with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mekki and Jonathan met shortly after the summit of the group of eight developing nations held in Pakistani capital Islamabad.
Tuareg rebels and armed Islamists, some with links to Al-Qaeda, took control of the vast northern region of Mali after a March coup in the capital Bamako created a power vacuum.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) resolved earlier this month to resort to the military option by deploying 3,300 troops to quell the insurgency if all peaceful efforts failed to yield the desired result.
Nigerian spokesman Reuben Abati told reporters that Mekki raised Mali with Jonathan and urged that the "issue should, as much as possible, be peacefully resolved".
"Egypt is on the side of finding a peaceful option to resolve the situation there because they feel that if the dangerous elements in northern Mali are stampeded by force, they could become a dangerous factor in the entire sub region," Abati said quoting Mekki.
Jonathan explained the genesis of the crisis in Mali and assured Mekki that force will be an option only if the ongoing peaceful efforts by ECOWAS failed, Abati said.
Jonathan commended the Egyptian government for leadership and maturity on the Gaza strip ceasefire adding that the course of peace is something to be pursued continuously and deliberately, Abati said.
Jonathan also suggested to Mekki collaboration among Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Algeria towards economic development of Africa and also offered to visit Egypt next year for further talks.