President François Hollande has categorically ruled out a French military intervention in Mali on Tuesday. France will not intervene "under any pretext" in the north of the country, currently under the control of Islamist militias.
At a press conference held to mark his first six months in office, Hollande pledged that Paris would only provide "logistical support" to the African nations that are set to intervene in Islamist-controlled northern Mali.
Last weekend the Ecowas grouping of west African nations agreed to send a military force to the troubled country.
Hollande described the decision as "very important".
Pointing out that countries such as Mauritania, Algeria, and Chad, who are not Ecowas members, took part in the meeting, Hollande insisted that Europe will leave the military action to Africans.
"France and Europe will provide logistical support and training," he said. "But France will not, under any pretext, intervene in Mali."
But, with six French citizens among the nine Europeans held hostage by Al Qaeda in the Ismamic Maghreb (Aqim), Hollande said that the presence of "terrorist groups" there is cause for concern.