PARIS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- France will keep its military operation in Mali as long as needed, said French President Francois Hollande on Saturday.
The operation will last "till the time when terrorism is defeated," Hollande was quoted by French paper L'Express as saying during his visit to the city of Tulle, southern France.
"The intervention of France in Mali is legitimate," the French president stressed.
"France is acting in accordance with the international law," he said, adding that his country is supported not only by European countries, but also by African countries.
He explained that France's mission in Mali is neither to "conquer a territory" nor "to respond to a commercial and economic issue."
"Our country must help a friendly country which is one of the poorest in the world and who is a victim of terrorism for too many years," the French leader said.
Hollande said he is to meet on Sunday the families of French hostages who have been held by Islamist militants in Africa.
Since Hollande announced eight days ago a military intervention within U.N. resolution in the West African country, France has launched air strikes against armed Islamist groups to stop their offensive and attempt to control the country's capital of Bamako.
PARIS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday that France has 2,000 troops on the ground in Mali to fight against the Islamist rebels from the northern region.
Earlier media reports said France mulled over the deployment of 2,500 troops in Mali for the military operation. But the defense minister judged that the number may be exceeded as now 2,000 French troops have already been deployed in Mali. Full story
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations is deploying a multidisciplinary force, with the arrival of its advance team in the Malian capital of Bamako on Saturday to help Mali with the efforts to restore constitutional order and territorial integrity in the West African country, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here Friday.
"In continuation of UN efforts to assist with the restoration of the constitutional order and territorial integrity of Mali, the multidisciplinary presence called for in Security Council resolution 2085 is deploying with the arrival in Bamako of an advance team on Saturday and the start of its consultations with the Malian Authorities on Monday, 21 January," Nesirky said at a daily news briefing here. Full story