A convoy of Malian troops makes a stop to test some of their weapons near Hambori, northern Mali, on the road to Gao, Monday Feb. 4, 2013. French troops launched airstrikes on Islamic militant training camps and arms depots around Kidal and Tessalit in Mali's far north, defense officials said Sunday, as the first supply convoy of food, fuel and parts to eastern Mali headed across the country.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) — France's foreign minister says in a newspaper interview that his country's troops may start pulling out of a military intervention in the African country of Mali in March.
Laurent Fabius is quoted in France's Metro newspaper as saying, "I think that starting in March, if everything goes as planned, the number of our troops should diminish."
The Metro report, published online Tuesday night and tweeted by Fabius' office, gave no firm figures or dates for an eventual withdrawal.
France has some 4,000 troops in Mali in an intervention that started last month against Islamist extremists who had seized the north of the country last year and had started pushing toward the capital.
Already French troops are expected to start handing control of the fabled city of Timbuktu to African forces this week.