France supports UN force in Mali

Paris - French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday supported possible United Nations plans for a peacekeeping force to be deployed in Mali and said France would play a role.

“This development would be very positive and I hope that this initiative can be carried through,” Le Drian told France Inter radio.

A French soldier secures a perimeter on the outskirts of Diabaly, Mali, some 460kms north of the capital Bamako on January 21, 2013. Credit: AP

Asked about French participation, he said France would “obviously play a role.”

Diplomats and officials said Wednesday that the United Nations is speeding up for planning for peacekeeping forces in Mali after French and Malian troops retook territory seized last year by Islamist rebels.

Diplomats said the UN Security Council could start talks within days on moves that would probably incorporate African troops now gathering in Mali into a formal blue helmet force.

Le Drian said the security situation in Mali remained “fragile” and that efforts were needed by Malian forces to ensure there were no abuses or revenge attacks.

“We also hope that United Nations observers will be able to ensure the good development of the situation in the cities we have taken with Malian forces,” he said. - Sapa-AFP