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Slideshow: Mali welcomes Hollande in Timbuktu and Bamako

media France's President François Hollande greets people in the center of Timbuktu, … Reuters/Benoit Tessier

France will stay in Mali as long as necessary, President François Hollande told an enthusiastic crowd in Bamako after visiting the northern city of Timbuktu Saturday. French warplanes bombed supposed Islamist positions near Kidal in the far north on Sunday, following Hollande's hero's welcome, illustrated in our slideshow below.

"Terrorism has been pushed back, it has been chased away, but it has not been defeated yet," Hollande told the Bamako crowd at a monument commemorating Mali's independence from France.

"France will stay by your side as long as necessary, as long as it takes for Africans themselves [...] to replace us," he said.

Dossier: War in Mali

Earlier he had received a warm welcome in Timbuktu, although reports of reprisals against the Arab and Tuareg population have begun to mar the anti-Islamist offensive's image.

US Vice-President Joe Biden congratulated France on its intervention ahead of a visit to Paris Sunday and Monday.

And at the same international security conference that Biden was attending, Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Ehud Barak declared the operation "a very good example for the world".

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