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France wants a UN peacekeeping force for Mali to be in place by April, the French foreign minister said today.
France's defence minister has said that "several hundred" Islamist militants have been killed since an offensive was launched in Mali last month, the BBC reports.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said they had been killed in airstrikes and direct combat with French troops.
On Tuesday, France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said French troops will begin pulling out of Mali in March.
As President Hollande flew out of Timbuktu he will have seen the challenge beneath him. Our Africa Correspondent Rohit Kachroo says the community is one of the most isolated anywhere in the world.
There was a hero's welcome for France's President Hollande when he arrived in Timbuktu today. He was visiting the desert city in Mali, after its recapture from Islamic extremists. Our Africa Correspondent Rohit Kachroo was in Timbuktu to witness scenes of jubilation.
French President Francois Hollande has arrived in the Malian town of Timbuktu to greet French troops:
French President Francois Hollande has arrived in Mali for a visit to French troops fighting Islamist rebels in the African country.
French president Francois Hollande is expected to meet Mali's Interim President Dioncounda Traore today in the Malian capital of Bamako, according to French media reports.
Latest ITV News reports
Throughout ten months of Islamist rule, the people of Timbuktu risked their lives to preserve the artefacts of their ancient heritage.
Francois Hollande is due to visit Timbuktu during his visit to the West African country this weekend. He will be welcomed by many.