France would be willing to support an African-led military force to expel Islamic militants from Mali, President Francois Hollande said in an interview with three media organizations today.
“France won’t intervene and there won’t be French troops on the ground, but we are willing to help an African-led force materially,” he said in an interview with television channels France 24 and TV5 Monde and Radio France Internationale on the eve of an African tour.
France, which this month said it will circulate at the United Nations Security Council a draft resolution for such a force, wants the “Africans to decide” on any intervention, Hollande said. He said France wants a UN resolution to enable such a force to act.
His trip to Africa is in part aimed at ensuring French companies, including oil producer Total SA, play a greater role on the continent, he said.
“Our economic interests there need to be protected,” he said, adding that there needs to be “greater transparency in all extractive industries in Africa.”
Separately, Hollande reiterated that it’s imperative that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down.
“The sooner Bashar leaves, the smoother the transition will be,” he said in the interview.