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Mali to have sovereignty over 'most' of its territory soon: France

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday said Mali's sovereignty over almost all of its territory would be restored within "a few days".

"In the last phase where we are, almost the entire territory will return to Mali's sovereignty in a few days," Hollande said during a dinner with representatives of the Jewish community in France.

Hollande spoke shortly after his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament that French troops would begin pulling out of troubled Mali "from the end of April".

Ayrault said a meeting next Monday between lawmakers in France's National Assembly and Senate would assess the involvement of French troops to help flush out Islamist rebels in the west African country "even if our troops will begin coming home from the end of April".

"Our intervention allowed us to obtain major results within two months: the offensive by terrorist groups was stopped (and) the towns were recaptured," said Hollande.

He had presided a new meeting of the French defence council earlier Wednesday to assess the situation in the west African country. The panel has met at least once a week since French troops were sent to Mali in mid-January.

ha/gk

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130320/mali-have-sovereignty-over-most-its-territory-soon-france