Mali intervention to last 'as long as necessary'
By Brooks Tigner
The French Army will stay in Mali for as "as long as necessary", although it expects that the African intervention forces and the Malian Army could regain control of the country's rebel-held territory before the end of 2013, according to French military officials.
However, there is no prospect of the EU sending one of its battle groups (BGs) to the theatre.
"We have no desire to be an occupying force," Lieutenant General Gilles Rouby, France's military representative to the EU and NATO, told a 23 January meeting of the European Parliament's Security and Defence Committee. "We will stay as long as necessary: that is, as long as the African [intervention] force or Mali's army can't control the situation on the ground."
The multi-nation African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) - organised by the African Union and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), with financial support from the EU and others - is currently deploying to Mali from various countries in the region.
Gen Rouby said it would be "difficult to say" whether France's stationing of troops in the country will be "three weeks, three months or three years".192 of 678 words
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