Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

At least 3 dead in grenade attack in Bujumbura

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Inequality, sexism and the movie industry

Read more

ENCORE!

Sienna Miller on motherhood, her new movies and Cannes glamour

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

After the Fall of Ramadi, Palmyra: Did the West Underestimate the Jihadists?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Migrants and Immigrants: A Global Crisis

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Behind the scenes of French gastronomy

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Protests continue in Burundi as calls mount for election delay

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Burundi: Nkurunziza delays parliamentary polls as clashes continue

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

At least two killed in fresh protests in Bujumbura

Read more

Africa

French minister of defence on surprise visit to Mali

© France24

Video by Kate Moody

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-07

French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived Thursday on a surprise visit to Mali, where he spoke to FRANCE 24’s Matthieu Mabin. Mabin has been following French troops as they track Islamists in the northern Ifoghas mountains.

French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived Thursday on a surprise visit to the mountains of northern Mali, where French troops have been tracking Islamist fighters who are thought to be holding foreign hostages.

Le Drian came to show support for the mission and pay homage to the two paratroopers recently killed in the Ifoghas mountain range. A total of four French soldiers have died since France launched its Mali operations on January 11.

"The mission is not over,” Le Drian told FRANCE 24’s Matthieu Mabin. “The combat has been carried out very well so far, but we still need to restore Mali's territorial integrity, until Mali is freed."

FRANCE 24 reports from Mali's Ifoghas mountain range

Most of northern Mali fell under Islamist control following a coup in March last year.

"After that we may be able to start pulling back and leave the mission to African troops, supported by a UN mandate," he said.

Le Drian was speaking in an impromptu interview on the desert plains at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by French troops. 

Mabin concurred that it was not yet time for France to hand over responsibility for the mission in Mali.

“It would be deceptive to imagine that African or UN troops are ready to take over and let French troops withdraw,” he said.

Mabin has been following French paratroopers as they track Islamist fighters across the northern Ifoghas terrain. It took them more than a week of trudging through the desert in 45°C heat to pick up the trail of the fighters.

Both the military and embedded journalists continue to operate under very difficult conditions in the area, Mabin said.

“We couldn’t even consider reaching the area without military helicopters,” he said. “It’s too dangerous. Many Islamist fighters remain in the region.”

 

 

Date created : 2013-03-07

  • MALI - FRANCE

    French troops to begin Mali withdrawal in April

    Read more

  • MALI - FRANCE

    Fourth French soldier killed in Mali operations

    Read more

  • MALI - FRANCE

    French UN envoy: Mali peacekeeping force months away

    Read more

COMMENT(S)