UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. says former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi has made clear he will be completing his term as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy for Africa's troubled Sahel region when his mandate ends on Jan. 31 — but remains ready to help the United Nations.

Prodi told a Security Council meeting Thursday focusing on last month's visit to the Sahel by Ban and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim that it would probably be his last briefing.

But he added into his prepared remarks: "Of course, I am completely at your disposal" to stay on.

U.N. spokesman Jared Kotler said Prodi "was not expressing any desire to remain" as special envoy to the Sahel beyond Jan. 31.

"He was simply making reference to his disposition to remain helpful if he can, on a personal basis, to the UN's continuing work on the Sahel in the future," Kotler said.

Prodi, who accompanied Ban and Kim to Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, expressed gratitude for the council's support and Ban's confidence in giving him the "challenging assignment" of developing a strategy to help the Sahel and putting in place measures to help governments sustain peace and security.