Hollande Thanks Moscow for Mali, Afghanistan Support

MOSCOW, February 28 (RIA Novosti) – French President Francois Hollande thanked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday for Russia’s support for the military operation in Mali and assistance in the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan.

“From day one you supported our military action in Mali. You understood the importance of the international component in the fight against terrorism,” he said during a meeting with Putin in Moscow.

“I know that Russia will assist in the transformation of this mission into a peacekeeping mission in the coming weeks,” he added.

Moscow has urged the international community to step up its efforts in Mali to prevent the conflict there spreading throughout the region and bring an end to the crisis in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

French troops went into Mali last month to help the African state’s army battle Islamist rebels.

On Afghanistan, Hollande welcomed Russia’s assistance in the withdrawal of military equipment from that country.

“I have assumed an obligation to pull our troops out by the end of 2012. It was fulfilled with your assistance, as well as assistance from other countries,” the French president said.

France, as well as other NATO member states, has praised Russia’s contribution to international security, specifically its support for ground and air transit into and out of Afghanistan. As of last July, over 2,200 flights, 379,000 military personnel, and 45,000 containers of cargo had been transported through Russia in support of operations in Afghanistan.

All NATO combat troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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