An undated photograph made available by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) on 28 January shows soldiers from Tchad securing the airport in Gao, Mali. A French-led coalition of troops from Mali's neighboring countries including Tchad appear to have reclaimed key cities in northern Mali from Islamist rebels, with Timbuktu and Gao coming under their control and the last rebel bastion bombarded at the weekend: photo - EPA/GHISLAIN MARIETTE
“Poland has no doubt that responsibility falls on the international community and the entire European Union for intervention and peacekeeping in the region, but France has taken on the most difficult task in this matter,” Prime Minister Tusk said on Monday.
Poland's president, Bronislaw Komorowski is expected to make the formal decision, Tuesday, on releasing troops for the mission in Mali, where soldiers from several EU countries will give security training to Malian troops as they fight off an Islamist anti-government insurgency in the north of the country.
French paratroopers took the ancient city of Timbuktu after ten months of insurgent occupation on Monday, securing its airport and main roads as thousands of residents greeted the troops, waving French and Mali flags, Reuters reports.
“French and Malian forces are liberating the city. It’s not completely finished, but it’s well on its way,” French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian announced.
Francois Hollande suggested that French troops might soon halt the northward advance, leaving it to African soldiers to pursue the militants.
“We are winning this battle. When I say, ‘We,’ this is the Malian army, this is the Africans, supported by the French,” the French president said.
PM Tusk added that while the 20 Polish troops “would not be directly involved in combat operations”, they could offer organizational and logistical support in Mali after the government in the capital Bakamo called for international assistance to fight the insurgents.
President Hollande thanked PM Tusk for his assistance, recognising that "Poland supports what France is doing in Africa on behalf of the international community."
Donald Tusk said that on 6 March there would be a meeting of the so-called Visegrad Group (Poland, France and Germany) where there will be “ground breaking” work on European defence issues, he said. (pg)