French troops to begin Mali pullout in March-foreign minister

PARIS Wed Feb 6, 2013 4:16am IST

A Malian soldier (C, in helmet) patrols with French soldiers along the street outside the Ahmed Baba Institute, or Ahmed Baba Centre for Documentation and Research, in Timbuktu February 2, 2013. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A Malian soldier (C, in helmet) patrols with French soldiers along the street outside the Ahmed Baba Institute, or Ahmed Baba Centre for Documentation and Research, in Timbuktu February 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Related Topics

PARIS (Reuters) - France plans to begin pulling troops out of Mali from March and will focus its operations on flushing out Islamist rebels in the north of the country, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday.

"We will continue to act in the north where some terrorist havens remain," he said in an interview for Wednesday's Metro newspaper.

"I think that from March, if everything goes according to plan, the number of French troops should fall."

Fance has deployed nearly 4,000 ground troops, as well as warplanes and armoured vehicles in its three-week-old Operation Serval that has broken the Islamist militants' 10-month grip on northern towns.

It is now due to gradually hand over to a U.N.-backed African force of some 8,000 troops, known as AFISMA, of which around 3,800 have already been deployed.

Paris and its allies want to prevent the Islamists from using Mali's desert north as a base to launch attacks on neighbouring African countries and the West.

"The narco-terrorist groups have been stooped thanks to our strikes," Fabius said. But there can still be individual acts. We have to stay on our guard."

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

FILED UNDER:

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

Down Under

Down Under

Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage