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A Dutch navy supply ship was on its way to the Ivory Coast to provide support to French vessels off the coast of the troubled west African nation, the defence ministry in The Hague said on Friday.
The Amsterdam, with its 172 crew, was loading cargo in Malaga, Spain, and would depart for Dakar, Senegal, in the coming days to stock up on further provisions, ministry spokeswoman Marloes Visser told AFP.
"We expect that the ship will arrive of the coast of the Ivory Coast around the end of the year," she said.
It will serve as a supplier of mainly food and fuel to French ships, about whose mission Visser could not divulge any details.
In a statement earlier, the Dutch foreign ministry said the French government had asked the Netherlands to provide maritime support "in the context of France's coordinating role in the protection of citizens of EU member states in the turbulent Ivory Coast".
The Netherlands agreed on Tuesday to send the Amsterdam, which is primarily a supply ship but can also be used for security operations and evacuations "if necessary".
The ship had been on her way back to the Netherlands from an anti-piracy mission when it was rerouted, and is now expected back in the second half of January, the statement said.
The Ivory Coast has been in the grip of a deadly political stand-off since incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and his opponent Alassane Ouattara both claimed to have won a November 28 presidential election.
© 2010 AFP
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