World Bulletin/News Desk
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved on Thursday the creation of a 12,600-strong peacekeeping force in Mali from July 1, which will be supported by French troops if needed.
France, aided by some 2,000 troops from Chad, began a military offensive in January to drive out fighters.
The U.N. peacekeeping force - to be known as MINUSMA - will assume authority from a U.N.-backed African force deployed there to take over from the French. Most of the African force, known as AFISMA, are likely to become peacekeepers, diplomats say.
The U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali will be the third largest, behind deployments in Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur in Sudan, and cost up to $800 million annually, U.N. officials say.
The resolution contains a caveat that the creation of the peacekeeping force be subject to a review by the 15-member council of the security situation in Mali within 60 days of its adoption.
France has started withdrawing its 4,000-strong force and plans to have just 1,000 by the end of the year. Paris had said Mali's north was in danger of becoming a springboard for attacks on the region and the West.
French forces would be able to intervene to support MINUSMA when peacekeepers are "under imminent and serious threat and upon the request of the secretary-general," according to the resolution.
Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2013, 17:34