Feb. 2 - President Francois Hollande arrives in Malian city of Timbuktu after French forces free the ancient city from rebels. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION French President Francois Hollande flew to Mali on Saturday to support French troops fighting Islamist rebels in the Sahel nation, where he visited the famed ancient city of Timbuktu that was recaptured from al Qaeda-allied fighters six days ago. Hollande, accompanied by his ministers for defence, foreign affairs and development, was greeted by a group of dancers and singers at Timbuktu airport and then visited the Grand Mosque in the UNESCO World Heritage Site city. The French president was gifted a camel as a symbolic gesture of gratitude upon arrival in Timbuktu. Hollande has said that the French operation, which has 3,500 soldiers on Malian soil backed by warplanes, helicopters and armoured vehicles, wants to hand over to a larger U.N.-backed African force which is still being deployed.