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EU to decide on action in Central African Republic in January

Source: Reuters - Fri, 20 Dec 2013 02:33 PM
Author: Reuters
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(Adds Merkel)

BRUSSELS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The European Union will decide next month on a joint operation in the Central African Republic in support of a French military intervention to stabilise a country racked by sectarian violence, French President Francois Hollande said on Friday.

"I am not asking that troops come to take part in military actions ... what we need is a presence for specific missions such as protecting the airport, helping security, medical and humanitarian assistance," Hollande said after an EU summit.

He told a news conference that several European countries had already offered help and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton would propose a range of options for a joint European mission to be decided in late January.

Their presence under a European flag was more important for political than for financial support, he said.

France sent some 1,600 troops to its former colony this month to stop massacres between Muslim and Christian militias triggered by a March coup.

Hollande said Poland had already sent 50 airmen to operate and maintain a C130 military transport plane, and Britain, Germany, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands were also providing different forms of logistical support.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said both civilian and military options were on the table for a possible EU mission.

"There will surely not be retroactive financing but we will think about what European mechanisms can be used. They can be civilian, they can be military, nothing has been fixed yet and nothing ruled out," she told reporters in Brussels.

Merkel said Germany, which has rarely engaged in military missions since World War Two, would not be sending troops to Central African Republic. (Additional reporting by Noah Barkin; Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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