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"Jean-Yves Le Drian en visite surprise au Mali"

March 7, 2013

French Article Translation of the Week

"Jean-Yves Le Drian en visite surprise au Mali"

"Le ministre français de la Défense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, est arrivé jeudi 7 mars dans le nord-est du Mali pour faire une visite surprise aux troupes françaises qui y combattent les groupes islamistes armés. Il doit ensuite se rendre à Gao et Bamako."

"The French Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, arrived Thursday, March 7 in the northeast of Mali to make a surprise visit to French troops who are fighting armed Islamist groups. He will then go to Gao and Bamako."

This article has been translated from French. Click here to read the original on version on

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Minister of Defense, arrived on Thursday, March 7 in the extreme north of Mali for a visit to French troops who are combating jihadists in Adrar of Ifoghas.

The purpose of this trip, taking place the day after the death of the fourth French soldier in Mali, is to send "a message of pride and encouragement" to the French troops, said a source in the Ministry.

The Minister must then go to Gao (north) and the capital Bamako, where he is expected at 17:00. According to the Embassy of France in Bamaki, he will give a press conference at mid-day on Friday.

The Amettetaï Valley

On Thursday morning, the Minister of Defense visited the Amettetaï Valley in the heart of the Ifoghas Mountains, considered "the sanctuary to terrorist groups" and the setting for the "toughest fights." Jean-Yves Le Drian then addressed the French military from the Tessalit airport.

"By displacing the jihadists of their last bastions, you become the bridgeheads of this war without respite that France has decided to deliver against terrorist groups that still exist in Mali," he said, quoted in message to the ministry . "On you, as well as on our Chadian brothers in arms, rests the success of Operation Serval. I know the pain and I salute the courage," he added.

The Minister also paid tribute to the four soldiers who died for France in Mali: Commander Damien Boiteux, Sergeant-Chef Harold Vormezeele, Corporal Cédric Charenton, and Sergeant Wilfried Pingaud. Some 4,000 French troops are now engaged in operation Serval. According to the Ministry of Defense, "France's determination (...) to restore sovereignty to the government and people of Mali is complete."

The mission is "not finished"

According to a French military source in Mali, Jean-Yves Le Drian was expected at mid-day in Gao, a northern city recaptured from Islamists in the first phase of the operation. Interviewed by France 24 in north-eastern Mali, the Minister said that it is in these mountains that two of the four French soldiers were killed. "I wanted to honor and salute their comrades. I wanted to tell them that France was proud of its soldiers (...) proud of the quality of their work and smooth operations."

The Minister of Defense said that the mission, however, is "not finished", recalling the purpose of travel being to return Mali's "integrity." "It is after this [goal is reached] that we will gradually withdraw [our troops], giving way to the African mission under the auspices of the UN," he said.

In Mali, some 4,000 French soldiers coordinate their actions with the Malian army; about 4000 soldiers are from West African countries and 2000 from Chad.

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