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France seeks Russian support in Mali operation

(Xinhua)

18:56, February 28, 2013

MOSCOW, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Visiting French President Francois Hollande Thursday sought Moscow's support of its military operation in Mali, saying Russian leader Vladimir Putin understood the objectives of Paris very well.

"He (Putin) understands this is not about French influence, this is not about protection of a certain man in Africa or about protecting of some our positions," he told local radio Echo of Moscow, adding that he wanted Putin's support in that issue.

"This is the fight against terrorism in Africa, and President Putin wages his own fight against terrorism by all means available," Hollande said.

While promising that France would withdraw from that country as soon as the African forces could control the situation, the French leader said it could have been controlled by terrorists if France hasn't intervened.

"The operation hasn't been completed yet. We continue it."

The Malian army in January launched a counter-offensive against rebel forces in the West African country's north with the backing of other African countries and France, the former colonial ruler of Mali.

Russia sent a plane loaded with humanitarian aid to Mali last week. Late January, Moscow welcomed Ethiopian and South African involvement in stabilizing the situation in Mali.

On Tuesday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian estimated the "Serval" military operation in Mali has already cost the French government over 100 million euros (131 million U.S. dollars).

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