French soldiers in an armored vehicle stop for a break near the mountains north of Douentza, Mali.

Washington - US Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday praised the “successful” intervention by France to root out Islamic rebels in northern Mali, and urged Malian leaders to hold elections.

Speaking ahead of talks with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Kerry said Mali would be one of the issues on the agenda. “We urge the government to continue the political transition process towards elections and to step up negotiations with the non-extremist groups in the north,” he said. - Sapa-AFP