“We’re going keep a little more than 2,000 men until the end of the year,” Le Drian said on Thursday.
France launched a war in Mali on January 11 under the pretext of halting the advance of rebel fighters in the country.
On February 1, Amnesty International said “serious human rights breaches” were occurring in the French war in Mali.
The French defense minister made the remarks after the United Nations appealed for more troops and helicopters for its peacekeeping mission in the West African country.
The UN force, known as MINUSMA, took over security duties in July from a UN-backed African force in Mali.
Bert Koenders, the UN’s special representative to Mali, said the force must have more resources in order to stabilize the north of the country.
Earlier this month, Mali’s Tuareg and Arab rebels said they would resume peace negotiations with the government.
The rebels, who are fighting to gain autonomy in the northern region of the country, made the announcement on October 5, nine days after they staged a walkout from the talks, which were held in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso.
The truce accord was mediated by regional African powers, the United Nations and the European Union.
Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months.
The Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region in the wake of the coup d’état, but the Ansar Dine extremists then pushed them aside and took control of the region, which is larger than France or Texas.