France and the United Nations insist any invasion must be led by African troops. But France has six hostages in Mali and fears it's becoming a new source of cross-border terrorism, and is playing an increasing role behind the scenes.
A French defense official said Monday that drones are headed to the region soon. And officials said American and French military leaders and diplomats are holding talks Monday on intelligence-gathering and security in Africa's Sahel region.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the activities publicly.