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UK to sent troops to Mali mission

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-01-30 10:22

LONDON - The United Kingdom will sent about 240 troops to West Africa in a training role to aid the French-led mission against Islamist rebels in Mali, the government confirmed on Tuesday.

The British Prime Minister's official spokesperson said the UK would deploy about 240 military personnel, which include up to 40 personnel in a European Union training mission to help build the Malian army, and 200 British soldiers to be sent to neighboring African countries to assist in the training of their army.

The UK has also offered to supply a roll-on, roll-off ferry to help transport heavy equipment to the French intervention force currently spearheading the fight against the Islamist militants.

It will also allow allies such as the United States to fly air-to-air refueling missions from British airbases in support of the French operation.

However, the spokesperson said an offer to establish a joint Anglo-French logistics headquarters in Mali to organize supplies to the French forces had not been taken up by Paris.

If the British offers of help are accepted, the number of British personnel deployed in Africa would rise to over 300.

It is reported that Prime Minister David Cameron has assured French President Francois Hollande that the UK was "keen" to help Paris with its military mission.

Defense officials are set to discuss details of the planned EU-led training mission to build up the Malian army in Brussels in due course.

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