A UN diplomat revealed today that the security council will consider plans to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to Mali to help crush rebels in the country's north.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France-Inter radio that it would be "a positive development."
But French troops may have to stay in Mali for a while longer to carry out more "aggressive" duties.
The diplomat added that a UN force has the backing of the US, Britain and France but a new resolution would be needed.
Meanwhile in Mali itself, buildings were roped off in Gao after reports that the Islamists recently forced from the regional capital had planted explosives.
Troops also searched for landmines after four soldiers were killed and a fifth wounded in nearby Gossi.
French troops did the same in Timbuktu, including searching its largest mosque after imams raised concerns about piles of dirt left behind by rebel fighters.
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