Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (Getty Images)
LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the U.S. has ruled out putting any American troops on the ground in Mali, but officials are hoping the French will be able to succeed in establishing better security for the West African nation.
Panetta spoke at a press conference with Portugal's defense minister in Lisbon on Tuesday.
The U.S. is providing intelligence-gathering assistance to the French in their assault on Islamist extremists in Mali, and officials would not rule out having American aircraft land there to provide airlift and logistical support.
Panetta says the U.S. is still working through the details of assistance it will provide France.
His comments came after French forces led an all-night bombing campaign over a small Malian town, working to dislodge Islamist extremists who had seized the area.