PARIS, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The French military is willing to help African forces train for an intervention in Mali but won't be involved directly, French President Francois Hollande said.
The Economic Community of West African States is ready with a stand-by force for Mali, divided when Islamic rebels claimed autonomy for northern regions in the country. A visiting U.N. official this week said militants who took control of northern Mali after an early 2012 coup were suspected of committing atrocities and the situation has since taken a grave turn.
Hollande told news agency French 24 it was up to ECOWAS to organize the military response, though Paris would provide assistance.
"We can't intervene in the place of Africans but we can offer logistical help, we can train, but France will not intervene," he said.
The U.S. government had said it was coordinating with ECOWAS on an appropriate response to the crisis in Mali.
Hollande left Friday for a tour of African states, his first since taking office in May. Mali gained independence from France in 1960.