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France to hand over Mali intervention

Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:41 AM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- French officials said now that they have halted an advance by Islamic militants on Mali's capital, it's time for Africa to take the lead.

France has been assisting the government of its former African colony since last week, sending warplanes and deploying about 1,400 troops inside Mali.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Saturday met with the leaders of other countries involved in the multilateral military intervention to discuss how to accelerate the involvement of West African troops in Mali, The New York Times reported Sunday.

"Step by step, I think it's a question from what I heard this morning of some days, some weeks," he said of the time frame of when Economic Community of West African States, ECWAS, would take over.

Fabius said African troops would be transported to critical areas in Mali with the logistical support of Europe and Canada.

French officials said the United States had offered to ferry African troops if France footed the bill for the use of transport aircraft, the Times reported.

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