PARIS - French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday backed the idea of sending a United Nations peacekeeping force into Mali, saying France would play a role in any such plan.
The UN Security Council is to begin discussing the possibility of deploying UN troops in the stricken West African nation, envoys said of an idea it had previously been uncomfortable with before France's recent military intervention.
The French military on Wednesday took control of the airport in Kidal, the last town held by al-Qaeda-linked rebels, and is planning to quickly hand over to a larger African force, whose task will be to root out insurgents in their mountain redoubts.
UN envoys have said sending in a peacekeeping force would offer clear advantages over an African-led force, as it would be easier to monitor human rights compliance and the United Nations could choose which national contingents to use in the force.
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