Giulio Terzi, the foreign minister, confirmed Italy’s willingness to offer logistical support.
“It is important to find a rapid solution to this crisis and to avoid terrorist forces becoming firmly established in this part of the world,” he told the Senate.
An undersecretary for foreign affairs warned that there was a danger ofMali turning into an “Alqaedistan” of Islamist extremism.
Staffan De Mistura, who has long experience of conflicts in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, told Corriere della Sera: “This is the first time that a territory the size of France has fallen into the hands of al-Qaeda.
“Even if one risks a new Afghanistan, or even an ‘Alqaedistan’, we cannot have a country like Mali falling into the hands of a fundamentalist dictatorship that threatens the world.
“The French have intervened to try to prevent this happening. From Mali the rebels can menace the Mediterranean.
“Demonstrating solidarity with the French is important. This is not just a war against a group of rebels – the interests at stake are much greater than that.” Rome was informed in advance of the launch of the French operation last week, according to the Italian press.