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French defense minister in Mali to prepare post-war chapter when most French troops are gone

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FILE - This March 8, 2013 photo provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual Office (ECPAD) shows French soldiers patrolling the Mettatai region in northern Mali. The Security Council unanimously approved a new U.N. peacekeeping force for Mali on Thursday, April 25, 2013 to help restore democracy and stabilize the northern half of the country which was controlled by Islamist jihadists until a France-led military operation ousted them three months ago. (AP Photo/ECPAD, Arnaud Roine) (The Associated Press)

France's defense minister is in Mali to prepare the post-war period after most French soldiers leave, to be replaced by African troops and U.N. peacekeepers.

A Defense Ministry statement says Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in the Malian capital of Bamako on Thursday and plans visits with political figures and French troops who intervened on Jan. 11 and have knocked out fortified bases of radical jihadists in the north.

About 200 tons of munitions and arms have been seized and "the capacities of these groups have been considerably reduced," according to the statement.

Le Drian's visit comes as the U.N. Security Council approved a peacekeeping force for Mali, which will hold presidential elections in July.

At year's end, 1,000 French troops will still be in Mali, compared to around 4,000 now.