Published: 06 Feb 2013 08:22 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 06 Feb 2013 08:22 GMT+01:00
France expects to begin withdrawing its soldiers from Mali "starting in March, if all goes as planned", French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a newspaper interview to be published Wednesday.
"I think that starting in March, if all goes as planned, the number of French troops could be reduced," Fabius told the daily Metro. Nearly 4,000 French soldiers are currently deployed in Mali in an operation against Islamist militants.
"France does not want to remain permanently in Mali. It is the Africans and the Malians themselves who must guarantee security, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country," Fabius said.
"That is why we are going to, progressively, pass the baton to AFISMA (the African military mission to Mali). We ourselves are going to continue to act in the north where there remain terrorist pockets," he added.
Fabius called the first phase of the operation "very effective in blocking the terrorist groups and retaking cities" in the north.
"The narco-terrorist groups have been stopped.... (but) we have to remain on our guard in Mali as in the neighbouring countries... the risk is still there," he said.
France launched a military intervention in Mali on January 11 to push back an advance towards the capital Bamako by Islamist fighters who last year seized control of large swathes of the north of the country.
French airline company Air France confirmed on Wednesday a multi-billion euro order of Airbus's new A350 planes. The planes are not yet in service and only recently carried out a test flight (see video). READ () »
A new campaign, called “Do you speak touriste?” aims to train tourism professionals in Paris to understand the cultural differences between visitors of different nationalities, and offer them a better welcome, it emerged this week. READ () »
An elderly woman has drowned in south-western France after severe floods swept away her car in the town of Pierrefitte-Nestalas. Elsewhere, the Paris region was placed on orange alert for storms on Wednesday. READ () »
The historic Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes in south west France was evacuated on Tuesday after flash floods hit the area. Management at the shrine have told The Local they are growing increasingly concerned as waters continue to rise. READ () »
As a provocative new anti-smacking video campaign by the Fondation pour l'Enfance (Foundation for Childhood) causes a stir in France, the man behind the drive Dr. Gilles Lazimi tells The Local why France needs a law banning parents from smacking their kids. READ () »
French football stars Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, went on trial on Tuesday, accused of paying to have sex with then underage call-girl Zahia Dehar. The process was adjourned until January, however, on a legal technicality. READ () »
The Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated by police on Tuesday after a man threatened to throw himself off the famous monument. Reports suggest, however, that emergency services personnel have succeeded in apprehending the man. READ () »
These words are not the latest outburst by notorious French basher, London's Mayor Boris Johnson, but were the opinion of Britain’s Napoleonic War hero Admiral Lord Nelson, whose outspoken views were revealed in a letter, auctioned in London this week. READ () »
A pregnant Muslim woman who was allegedly attacked in the suburbs of Paris by two ‘skinheads’ for wearing an Islamic face veil has suffered a miscarriage, it was reported on Tuesday. READ () »
A court in north-eastern France on Tuesday sentenced to jail an impersonator to French music icon Serge Gainsbourg for stabbing a rival tribute act for French rock star Johnny Hallyday, amid a bizarre feud between the pair. READ () »