PARIS- French troops will begin pulling out of troubled Mali "from the end of April", French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament on Wednesday. Ayrault said a meeting next Monday between lawmakers in France's National Assembly and Senate would assess the involvement of French troops to help flush out rebels in the west African country "even if our troops will begin coming home from the end of April". Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius first said the 4,000-strong French contingent would be withdrawn from March. President Francois Hollande then promised a troop reduction from April. In his speech to parliament Ayrault paid tribute to the French forces, which have been in Mali since mid-January. They are France's "honour" and "proof that France can be up to its ambitions... and will be so wherever necessary", he said. Five French soldiers have died in combat since the start of the operations to drive out the rebels from areas they control in the north.