EU partners may offer troops for Mali: France's Fabius

17th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Some of France's EU partners are considering whether to offer troops to back up its military campaign in Mali against Islamist insurgents, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday.

After emergency EU talks on Mali, Fabius said all had "expressed their solidarity with Mali and support for France's action" and some were mulling "an offer of troops," although "we won't force anyone."

"There are limits to security and defence policy, even if that is to be regretted," he added.

Thus far, several of France's EU partners including Britain and Germany, have said they will provide logistic or other types of assistance, stopping short however of sending combat troops.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, asked at a separate press conference what help might be forthcoming, replied that "many countries said they were very willing to help and to support France in every way, and they did not rule in or rule out any aspect of that, including military support."

Ashton also insisted that France was not acting on its own.

"We have been in touch with Paris since before this operation took place .... The EU's role is to come and support France in its operations ... you have seen that in the support, logistical and otherwise that has come from other member states," she said.

"We were united in welcoming the quick response of France" last week in stopping a march on the Malian capital, Bamako, by Islamist rebels, Ashton added.

© 2013 AFP

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