French Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has arrived in the Malian city of Gao to address troops and officers along with their African counterparts.
His visit on Friday came as a gradual withdrawal of more than 4,000 French troops from northern Mali gets under way, after the country intervened to stop a rebel advance in January.
A UN peacekeeping force is taking over the mission in July, but 1,000 French troops will remain to assist.
Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons reports from Gao.
Source: Al Jazeera