Hollande promises a further 360 million euros in aid for Mali
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French President François Hollande made the announcement as he welcomed his Malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at the start of a two-day state visit in Paris. After a formal dinner at the Elysée Palace on Wednesday, the pair took part in an international conference at the headquarters of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Developement (OECD) on Thursday.
Hollande and Keïta have a strong personal relationship as well as a diplomatic one.
The Malian president has come to France on several occasions in the past, notably when he appeared beside Hollande at a march on 11 January this year following the attack at the Charlie Hebdo magazine's office.
For its part, France has been involved in Mali with the military Operation Serval since January 2013 with the aim of stopping armed Islamists moving further south.
As proof of this friendship, Keïta was awarded the France's Legion of Honour on Wednesday.
Now the countries are looking forward to Mali's future.
Officials from the Mali government, international partners, civil society and the private sector will discuss ways to move forward with the peace and reconciliation process in the country and bring about economic recovery and development.
In an exceptional move, some members of groups who signed the agreement will be present at the event for a symbolic photograph.
Many of the partners in support of Mali met two years ago in Brussels, to formalise a plan to rebuild infrastructure, particularly in the north where nearly everything must be replaced, from schools, to medical facilities to roads and electricity.
NGOs say the reconstruction of the landing strip in Kidal, undertaken by the UN mission Minusma nine months ago, must be sped up. For the moment the area is serviced only a helicopter coming from Gao, making the delivery of humanitarian aid difficult.
Out of the 360 million euros promised by Hollande, in the form of loans and donations to the value of 50 per cent, 80 million have been earmarked for the north of Mali.
This sum is on top of 300 million Paris has already donated since 2013.
To wrap up the visit, Keita was also to celebrate the memory of some 17,000 Malians who died during the two World Wars.
Keïta, whose great grandfather died fighting for France in World War I was to visit the Douaumont Ossuary near Verdun where Malian soldiers who fought in World War I are buried.
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