France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, says France wants African forces to assume security responsibility for the city of Timbuktu "very fast".
A group of 14 European tourists held hostage for up to six months were on Sunday freed by their captors, officials in the northern Malian town of Gao said, amid a report that a ransom had been paid.
To witness Africa's unrelenting hunger, look no further than into the fever-bright eyes of 17 severely malnourished infants languishing in a West African hospital. Worse than normal food crises raging in parts of Mali and elsewhere in Africa this year have focused new attention on the politics and geography of hunger across the world's poorest continent.
In scorching midday heat, a squadron of African soldiers advances stealthily through the brush. Suddenly, the point man in the centre raises his hand to signal a halt. That's where the first problems become apparent. Most of the men take cover, correctly, behind trees and thorn bushes.