Hollande to visit Mali on Saturday

Hollande to visit Mali on Saturday
Hollande greets the public on a trip to Grenoble. Opinion polls suggest Mali has not changed the views towards him ofthe French people. Philippe Desmazes/ pool / AFP
French President Francois Hollande, Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit Mali on Saturday, Hollande's office announced on Friday.

Development Minister Pascal Canin will also make the trip, which follows a three-week military intervention in the former colony in which French forces have recaptured large areas of northern Mali from Islamist groups.

There has been reports in the French press that Hollande and members of his government would be paying a trip to Mali, with daily Liberation the first to publish the news that the President was on his way to the Mali capital.

"According to our information, the president will fly on Friday evening and would be landing in Bamako on Saturday morning where he will meet Mali's acting President Dioncounda Traoré," Libération reporte.

The newspaper claimed Hollande plans to visit Timbuktu, recently liberated by French and Malian forces from the hands of the Islamist rebels.

The trip comes as troops are gathered at the gates of Kidal, a sandy northeastern outpost that is the last rebel stronghold in the poor west African country, poised to secure the town after capturing its airport on Wednesday.

The French-led campaign has claimed a rapid succession of victories in key Islamist strongholds where citizens greeted troops with euphoria.

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