Bamako, 22 Rabiul Awwal 1434/ 3 February 2013 (MINA) – President Francois Hollande says France would continue its combat mission in Mali and French troops will stay in the country as long as necessary.

     “We’ll stay as long as we need to, but there’s no question of us getting entrenched here, this is a short operation. We’ll stay by your side as you address rebuilding in your nation,” the French president told thousands of Malians in the capital, Bamako, on Saturday. 
      Hollande also praised the work done by French troops in Mali and pledged more support for the African country, according to PressTV reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency, (MINA), Sunday.

      “France will stay with you as long as it takes, until the time for Africans themselves to replace us. Until then we will be beside you to the end, as far as north Mali.”

       Also on Saturday, Hollande, accompanied by Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traore, traveled to the northern city of Timbuktu, which was recaptured by French and Malian troops on January 26. 
      “It (the war) is not over yet, it’s going to take several weeks, but our goal is to pass the baton,” he said. 
       Hollande arrived in Mali on Saturday for a one-day visit nearly four weeks after France launched the war on Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of anti-government fighters in the country. 
       Analysts believe that behind the military campaign are Mali’s untapped resources, including oil, gold and the uranium in the region. (T/P01/E1).


Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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