PARIS, Feb. 6 (Xinhaua) -- France will start to withdraw its troops from Mali in March, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday.
"We will continue to act in the north where some terrorist havens remain. I think that from March, if everything goes according to plan, the number of French troops should decrease," the top diplomat told the free daily Metro.
"France does not intend to remain permanently in Mali. It's up to Africans and Malians to guarantee the security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country," he added.
At the request of Malian President Dioncounda Traore, France has already poured 3,500 soldiers into Mali's northern region seized by Islamist armed fighters.
Asked if France risks reprisals after its intervention in its former colony, Fabius said "we have to stay on our guard in Mali and neighboring countries."
"The narco-terrorist groups have been stooped thanks to our strikes. But there can still be individual acts ... Everyone should have in mind that the risk is always present," he stressed.
Following his emergency decision to intervene in Mali, President Francois Hollande ignited revenge threats of al-Qaeda-affiliated cells who said he had put French citizens' safety at risk.
So far seven French citizens were held as hostages by Islamist militants in the Sahel region.
PARIS, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Monday said France and the United States have agreed on the need to hand over Mali military operations to a United Nations mission when it is "prudent."
"We agreed on the need to as quickly as reasonably possible establish the African-led international mission in Mali and as quickly as is prudent transition that mission to the United Nations," he said after talks with French President Francois Hollande on issues concerning Mali, Syria and Iran.Full story
PARIS, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- France will unfreeze public aid to Mali worth 150 million euros (203.47 million U.S. dollars) frozen after the French former colony plunged into violence in March 2012, a government official said Monday.
"The public aid for development will gradually resume when conditionality which means a roadmap that will lead ideally to elections in July, will be lifted," Pascal Canfin, Minister for Development, told AFP. Full story