1. ASSESSMENT

    French President to Visit Mali

    During an official visit organized by the French military, French troops are positioned overlooking the bridge crossing the river Niger at the entrance of Gao, Northern Mali, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. Islamist extremists fled the city Saturday after French, Chadian and Nigerien troops arrived, ending 10 months of radical Islamic control over the city. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

    French troops in Northern Mali on Thursday. (Jerome Delay/AP)

    French President François Hollande will visit Mali on Saturday, his office confirmed Friday. Hollande had sent French troops into Mali earlier this month to lead an intervention against Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda. On Wednesday, French troops seized control of Kidal, the last of the militants’ holdouts. But peace talks could prove to be difficult: Malian President Dioncounda Traore said he would speak only to secular groups from the north, where the rebels are based.

    Read it at Reuters