France has said that African nations must take the lead, though it could be some weeks before they are ready to do so.
France has said that some 400 troops from Nigeria, Togo and Benin had arrived Sunday in Bamako to help train an African force for Mali. Troops from Chad, who are considered hardened fighters familiar with the desert-like terrain of northern Mali, also have arrived, Le Drian said.
A top official with the West African regional bloc said Sunday the cost of the African intervention could top $500 million.
ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, who gave an interview to state television in Ivory Coast, said the initial estimate ‘‘may vary depending on the needs’’ of the mission and the situation on the ground.
Associated Press writers Krista Larson in Segou, Mali; Jamey Keaten in Dakar, Senegal; and Robbie Corey-Boulet in Abidjan, Ivory Coast contributed to this report.