France's military involvement in Libya was an "investment in the future", foreign minister Alain Juppe has said in an interview with the daily Aujourd'hui en France/Le Parisien.
"When I am asked about the cost of the operation -- the ministry of defence speaks of a million euros per day -- I point out that it is also an investment in the future," he said in the interview published Friday.
Juppe said Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi had confiscated the country's resources and accumulated stocks of gold.
"This money must be used for the development of Libya. A prosperous Libya will be a stabilising force for the region."
The minister said France has been criticised for a delayed response to the uprisings in the Arab world, and admitted "for a long time we allowed ourselves to be influenced by those who said that authoritarian regimes are the best buffer against extremism".
"That is over," he said. "Our line, which has already prevailed in Ivory Coast, is to prioritise the aspirations of the people and the protection of civilian populations."
This applied also to Syria, where France has ruled out military action, Juppe said.
France "is leading the international mobilisation to put pressure on the regime by political and financial sanctions," stressing there was no international mandate for military intervention in Syria.
France has been leading a UN-sanctioned NATO assault on Libyan regime targets.