France begins Mali withdrawal in north

Defence minister says 1,000 French troops will remain in country as UN force prepares to take over peackeeping mission.

Last Modified: 27 Apr 2013 03:49
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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.


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