France has told fellow United Nations Security Council members it intends to introduce a resolution this month that would authorize a peacekeeping force in Mali to replace the current contingents of African and French soldiers deployed in that country, diplomats said Tuesday. France, which has said publicly it wants to scale down its forces in Mali, plans to schedule a vote on such a resolution in April, with the goal of transferring peacekeeping responsibilities by July, the diplomats said. French forces intervened two months ago in Mali, a former French colony, to stop Islamist militants occupying the northern part of the country from expanding into the south. Since then, a combination of soldiers from France, Mali and neighboring African countries has helped drive the militants out of northern Malian cities deep into the hinterlands, but they remain a threat. The exact size of a United Nations peacekeeping force for Mali has yet to be determined, but France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, was quoted by Agence France-Presse as telling lawmakers in Paris it could be as many as 10,000 soldiers.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.