As Mali fights to keep its northern territory and legendary city of Timbuktu out of rebels' hands, the West African nation has hired Davidoff Hutcher & Citron to lobby for it in Washington.
The firm is planning to meet with members of Congress and their aides, as well as senior Obama administration officials, to further Mali's "economic and defense interests," according to foreign lobbying registration paperwork filed this week with the U.S. Justice Department. Davidoff associate Russ Klenet, as well as government relations professional Stephen Slade, director Jonathan McCollum and analyst Scott Klenet, are handling the account.
Russ Klenet said Mali has a "tremendous desire" to reach out to U.S. officials as the country moves toward a stable democracy. Next week, the Davidoff lobbyists will assist Younoussi Touré, speaker of Mali's parliament, with meetings in Washington, he said.
Mali has received some U.S. support in recent months.
In February, President Barack Obama authorized up to $50 million to assist France and Chad in their efforts to clear Mali's northern region of Islamist militants. And this week, the Obama administration said it would ask Congress in 2014 for $180 million to help the country, according to The Associated Press.
Mali is the first foreign government to hire Davidoff to lobby. The firm has about 50 attorneys and lobbyists in Washington; New York; Albany, N.Y.; and Garden City, N.Y.