French general Francois Lecointre, a veteran of peacekeeping missions in Africa, will lead an EU mission to train soldiers in Mali, whose north is under the control of Islamists.

The 50-year-old, a graduate of France's elite Saint Cyr military academy, will be formally named by EU's top diplomat Catherine Ashton, French foreign ministry deputy spokesman Vincent Floreani said on Wednesday.

Under an European Union plan, some 250 officers would be sent to train Malian combat units and help restructure the west African country's weakened army.