Bamako, Mali – The President of France, Francois Hollande, arrived in Mali on Saturday to visit soldiers he sent to the West African country a few weeks ago to fight rebels. He was met in the central Malian city of Savere by Mali’s interim president Dioncounda Traore, according to sources in the Malian capital, Bamako.
The visit is to boost the morale of some 2,500 French soldiers who have led the push to flush out jihadists who seized large portions of the north of the country last year after a coup.
French and Malian soldiers have driven out the jihadists from key the cities of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal.
President Hollande is also expected to visit the historic city of Timbuktu.
He is leading a strong delegation, including his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, the Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the Minister of Development, Pascal Canfin, the presidency said in a statement on Friday without specifying the duration and the agenda of the visit.
France has been commended for its intervention in Mali after the jihadists imposed extreme forms of sharia law on areas they controlled.