Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds has confirmed that the British military's involvement in the conflict in Mali will be limited to two RAF C17 aircraft providing logistical support, but that it may provide training in the future.
He told Sky News' Murnaghan programme: "We are only providing limited logistical support in response to a French request - two planes.
"We may well, through a European Union mechanism, provide training and support for the Malian army to give them strength to bring back the integrity of the Malian country in totality.
"It's absolutely essential, as part of our obligations as a permanent member of the Security Council that we provide assistance when we are requested."
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.
Downing Street have been explaining what offers the UK have made to the military effort in Mali.