Dutch offer transport planes for French mission in Mali
The Netherlands is to supply military planes to help carry equipment in support of French operations in Mali where French and Malian troops are fighting Islamist rebels, a Dutch media report said on Wednesday.
The Dutch defence, foreign affairs and development cooperation ministers made the announcement in a letter to the Dutch parliament in The Hague, news agency ANP reported.
"The flights will not go directly to Mali but to neighbouring countries," the report added.
Paris has already received backing from several other major Western countries.
The Dutch government is also considering giving one million euros ($1.3 million) in development aid to Mali to be distributed through the UN's refugee agency the UNHCR.
So far 144,500 refugees have fled the unrest in Mali to neighbouring Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria, UN humanitarian agencies said Tuesday, while another 230,000 are internally displaced.
French and Malian troops engaged in close combat with Islamist rebels on Wednesday, battling insurgents in the small town of Diabaly some 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of Bamako.
France launched its campaign after the Islamists last week advanced into the government-held centre and threatened to advance on the capital.
© 2013 AFP