President Hollande Arrives in Mali on 4th Wk of French Intervention
France's President Francois Hollande has arrived Saturday in Mali, just as three weeks have elapsed since the start of a French military intervention in the African country.
Hollande was welcomed by Mali's acting Presdient Dioncounda Traore in the central town of Savare, after which the two are to meet in capital Bamako and the northern city of Timbuktu, recently freed from Islamist militants.
The French President is accompanied by French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Minister of Development Pascal Canfin.
The high-ranking visit is planned both as a show of support for French troops, and in the hope of a shift in the operations against the rebels.
France would like to see its armed forces replaced "as quickly as possible" by troops from African countries.
France intervened on January 11 to help the Malian army repel quickly advancing rebels including Al Qaeda's North African branch AQIM, who had taken the entire north of the country.