Le Drian de France: we must not lower our guard in Mali

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French Minister of European and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, wearing protective masks, departs after the last weekly cabinet meeting before the summer break, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 29, 2020. REUTERS / Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) – French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday that France would continue military operations in Mali where two French soldiers were killed on Saturday.

“There is no question of letting our guard down… We are making progress in Mali where we are fighting to ensure our safety and that of other countries,” Le Drian told France Inter radio.

Two French soldiers were killed and a third was seriously injured during an operation in Mali on Saturday when an improvised explosive device destroyed their armored vehicle.

The soldiers were part of Barkhane’s French military operations in Mali against Islamic fighters.

Le Drian echoed President Emmanuel Macron’s call on Saturday for the establishment of a transition to civilian rule in Mali.

International powers fear that the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in a military coup on August 18 will further destabilize the West African nation and undermine the fight against insurgents linked to Al Qaeda and the state Islamic in the wider Sahel region.

Report by Dominique Vidalon, edited by Louise Heavens

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