The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has confirmed that 40 UK personnel will train the Malian army and a further 200 will perform a similar task with forces in other west African countries.
In response to fears that Britain could get drawn into the Mali conflict, Mr Hammond said:
"It is not our intention to deploy combat troops.
"We are very clear about the risks of mission creep and we have defined very carefully the support we are willing and able to provide to the French and the Malian authorities".
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.