French forces begin northern Mali drawdown: 'The idea is not to create a vacuum' France has begun to withdraw troops from its northernmost Malian bases, part of plans to reorganise its forces deployed in the restive Sahel region under "Operation Barkhane". Mali summons French ambassador over Macron commentsMali's foreign ministry summoned France's ambassador to Bamako on Tuesday over comments by President Emmanuel Macron that it said were unfriendly and disagreeable. Mali's foreign ministry summons French ambassador to protest Macron commentsMali's foreign ministry summoned France's ambassador to Bamako on Tuesday over comments by President Emmanuel Macron that it said were unfriendly and disagreeable. Mali summons French ambassador over President Macron’s criticismMali’s gov’t expressed ‘ indignation, disapproval’ after Macron’s suggestions that gov’t was ‘not even really one’. Pentagon chief tells French counterpart U.S. supports Sahel missionFrance has Washington's continued support for counterterrorism efforts in Africa's Sahel region, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told his French counterpart in a phone call on Monday. France honours soldier killed in anti-terror operation in MaliPresident Emmanuel Macron led a solemn tribute on Wednesday to French soldier Maxime Blasco, who was killed in action battling Islamist insurgents in Mali. International community will stop supporting Mali if it brings in mercenaries - FranceFrance warned Mali on Thursday that it would lose the support of the international community if it agreed a deal with Russian mercenaries. Mali junta wiping its feet on blood of French soldiers, says angry FranceFrance's Armed Forces Minister defended her country's counter-terrorism role in Mali and accused the military junta of hypocrisy, bad faith and wanting to delay a transition to democracy after its prime minister said Paris was abandoning it.