EU finds more troops for CAR mission

Agence France-Presse

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More EU member states commit troops to help French and African Union forces in the troubled Central African Republic

People wait in Mbaiki, Central African Republic during the speech of French Defence Minister and new president of Central African Republic on February 12, 2014. Photo by Fred Dufour/AFP

BRUSSELS, Belgium – More European Union (EU) member states are now ready to commit troops to help French and African Union forces in the troubled Central African Republic, diplomatic sources said Friday.

Besides France, five other EU countries have proposed a “substantial” contribution to the EUFOR RCA mission expected to begin in March, one source said.

EU foreign ministers cleared the nine-month mission earlier this week but without determining who would contribute an estimated 500 troops.

The sources said Friday that Poland could provide some 140 soldiers, alongside a similar French contingent.

Additionally, Baltic states Estonia and Latvia, plus Romania and Portugal could each give 30-50, while Spain may also contribute, the sources said.

Diplomats said Thursday that Georgia – anxious to cement good ties with the EU – could also supply up to 100 troops.

“These commitments still have to be confirmed at the political level by these countries before any official announcement,” said one of the sources who asked not to be named.

Another meeting will be held February 27 to review troop contributions and the next step, the source added.

EUFOR RCA head, French General Philippe Ponties, said Thursday that officials were “working with a sense of urgency” to get the troops required so they could be deployed “as quickly as possible” in the capital Bangui.

Major EU powers such as Britain and Germany have refused to commit soldiers but have offered logistics support.

French President Francois Hollande in December called on his EU colleagues to stand together with France, which had intervened with 1,600 soldiers to prevent the Central African Republic becoming a failed state. –

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