France to cut troops level in Mali
Paris: French President Francois Hollande has announced to reduce the present troops level in Mali by the end of this year.
Reports, Friday, said that the French government has decided the bring the troops level down from present 4,000 French soldiers, fighting Islamist rebels in Mali, to 1,000 by the end of the year.
"We will start withdrawing at the end of April. In July, there will be no more than 2,000 soldiers in Mali. At the end of the year, there will only be 1,000 troops, “French President said in an interview with France 2 television.
France, which is leading a military intervention to secure northern Mali from al-Qaeda-linked rebels, is eager to withdraw and hand over to an African force known as AFISMA that would be transformed into a UN peacekeeping mission.
It has called for the 15-member UN Security Council to pass a resolution in April setting up the peacekeeping force, which could be in place by July.
AFISMA currently counts around 6,300 soldiers from west African countries and Chad.
The French leader also said that his country is looking forward to elections in Mali by July, adding that Paris was inflexible on this.
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