France wants to keep 1,000 soldiers in Mali permanently

Reuters reports: France has proposed keeping a permanent force of 1,000 French troops in Mali to fight armed Islamist militants, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday.

Fabius, on a visit to Bamako, said France was pushing ahead with plans to reduce its 4,000-strong military presence from the end of this month but planned to keep a combat force in Mali to support a future U.N. peacekeeping mission.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called last week for the deployment of a U.N. mission of 11,200 troops and 1,440 police in Mali once major combat ends.

This would include thousands of African troops already in Mali in support of France’s three-month military campaign, which has swept Islamist rebels out of the towns of northern Mali and into remote desert and mountain hideaways.

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