European Union countries will back African nations if they decide to intervene militarily in northern Mali to combat jihadist terrorism, Spain's deputy foreign minister said here Wednesday, while advocating political dialogue in that country.

Gonzalo de Benito met in the Nigerian capital with leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, who have agreed to send 3,300 soldiers to the region and ratified the EU decision to organize a training mission for Malian troops.

De Benito did not discuss how the Europeans will support the African governments, but he pointed to the possibility of cooperating with logistics and transportation.

At a press conference at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Abuja, he insisted on the need for a three-pronged approach to the Malian crisis: political, humanitarian and security.

De Benito also called upon Malian authorities to dialogue with the groups demanding autonomy in the north, who have shown themselves to be willing to negotiate.

The basic objective of the 15 ECOWAS members is to expel the terrorist groups that have become strong in the region, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

In Abuja, De Benito also held talks with Nigerian Foreign Minister Nurudeen Muhammad about bilateral relations and the possibilities of investment by Spanish companies in the ambitious infrastructure and energy projects under way in Africa's second-largest economy.

De Benito, who on Thursday will travel to Mali and Senegal and later to Cape Verde, wants to take advantage of his tour to secure support for Spain's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. EFE

Nigeria has already endorsed the Spanish bid. EFE