OUAGADOUGOU - A Malian government delegation and Tuareg separatist rebels have reached an agreement "in principle" that would allow planned elections in July to go ahead in the disputed northern Kidal region, a senior mediator in the talks said late on Monday.

Negotiations in the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, opened on Saturday, after Mali's army last week began advancing towards Kidal, the MNLA rebels' last stronghold in the remote northeast, in the first direct fighting in months.

France launched a massive military campaign in January which broke al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters' control over the northern two-thirds of Mali. However it allowed the Tuaregs to regain control of their traditional fiefdom.

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