France to withdraw from Mali to make way for UN peacekeepers in July: report

France to withdraw from Mali to make way for UN peacekeepers in July: report
# 14 March 2013 22:20 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. France is preparing its troops' withdrawal after two months of military presence in Mali to pass the baton of peacekeeping operation to the United Nations in July, the French local media reported Thursday, APA reports.

"While continuing military operations against Islamists in northern Mali, France is preparing to hand over the relay to the UN," reported French daily newspaper Le Figaro.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also told radio France Info on Thursday morning that he expected the United Nations to "have a decision" to deploy peacekeepers in the West African country in April.

"The established schedule provides that peacekeepers to replace French soldiers and African troops engaged in the mission of the MISMA (the Africa-led International Support Mission to Mali) will be deployed on July 1, before the Malian presidential election," said Le Figaro report.

Quoting a French diplomat, the newspaper added that "the French withdrawal will be parallel to the arrival of UN troops."

Malian President Traore Dioncounda and Acting Prime Minister Diango Cissoko had recently expressed their intentions to hold the presidential and legislative elections in July.

France kicked off its military intervention in Mali on Jan. 11 on the request of Mali authorities to oust al-Qaeda-linked insurgents and to help restore the country's sovereignty.

So far, four French servicemen have been killed in Mali.

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