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French military intervention in Mali to last as long as needed: Hollande


15:57, January 21, 2013

PARIS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- France will keep its military operation in Mali as long as needed, said French President Francois Hollande on Saturday.

The operation will last "till the time when terrorism is defeated," Hollande was quoted by French paper L'Express as saying during his visit to the city of Tulle, southern France.

"The intervention of France in Mali is legitimate," the French president stressed.

"France is acting in accordance with the international law," he said, adding that his country is supported not only by European countries, but also by African countries.

He explained that France's mission in Mali is neither to "conquer a territory" nor "to respond to a commercial and economic issue."

"Our country must help a friendly country which is one of the poorest in the world and who is a victim of terrorism for too many years," the French leader said.

Hollande said he is to meet on Sunday the families of French hostages who have been held by Islamist militants in Africa.

Since Hollande announced eight days ago a military intervention within U.N. resolution in the West African country, France has launched air strikes against armed Islamist groups to stop their offensive and attempt to control the country's capital of Bamako.

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