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Fri Nov 16, 2012, 04:57 AM

EU group endorses training mission for Mali

15 November 2012 Last updated at 17:49 GMT (BBC)

Foreign and defence ministers from five EU states have backed a proposed European mission to train Malian forces struggling against Islamist fighters. Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and France issued a statement in Paris endorsing the plan for Mali.

West African states intend to send a force to recapture northern Mali from al-Qaeda-linked Islamist groups... The proposal for the intervention is due to go before the UN Security Council for approval before the end of the year. The African Union has already backed the plan to send 3,300 troops under the banner of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas)...

... Nigeria's military chief Admiral Ola Ibrahim told the BBC that once the UN Security Council gives the green light for military intervention, Nigerian troops would be on the ground within one or two weeks. There would be fewer than 1,000 Nigerian soldiers in the Ecowas force, he said.

"What we agreed to is a situation where Malian forces will do most of the job securing their country," he said...

/... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20342369

For background from the Malian/African point of view see: http://www.afrik-news.com/mali

AU wants UN approval for intervention force to fight insurgents in Mali
by Elissa Jobson, noviembre 16 2012, 09:45

ADDIS ABABA — THE African Union (AU) this week urgently sought the United Nations (UN) Security Council’s full support for a proposed intervention force to fight Islamist insurgents occupying northern Mali. The AU submitted a plan for military intervention in Mali to the UN secretary-general on Tuesday evening, well in advance of the 45-day deadline set by the UN on October 12. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said he hoped to see a Security Council resolution before the end of the year...

... The plan covers a six-month period, with a preparatory phase for training and the establishment of bases in Mali’s south, followed by combat operations in the north, Malian army sources said. The plan — developed by military experts from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the AU, UN, European Union and other partners — requires UN approval before it can be implemented...

... The AU has urged the Security Council to give its full support to the proposal and has called for the authorisation of an initial one-year mandate for the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (Afisma), the new name for the proposed military intervention force.

There is some disagreement as to when troops from Afisma would be ready to be deployed. Ecowas commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told reporters on Tuesday at a conference in Paris: "The force is quite ready. When the UN gives the green light, the deployment will begin immediately."

But UN special envoy Romano Prodi said that Afisma would not be deployed immediately, saying, "You need a long time to prepare a military operation." Security experts and observers agree with Mr Prodi’s assessment, saying that it may take months before a force is ready to retake the north...

/... http://www.bdlive.co.za/world/africa/2012/11/16/au-wants-un-approval-for-intervention-force-to-fight-insurgents-in-mali

Diplomats Hint At European Union Military Intervention In Mali
BY Jacey Fortin | November 15 2012 10:23 PM

The European Union is warming up to the idea of sending its own troops to Mali, a West African country where Islamist insurgents have taken over a swath of land the size of France...

... “We encourage our partners to enhance efforts for a political solution to the Malian crisis, as well as to contribute to a possible training mission to support the Malian armed forces, in line with the Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions of the 15th of October,” said the statement. That Oct. 15 council report requested that “work on planning a possible CSDP (Common Security and Defense Policy) military operation be pursued and extended as a matter of urgency, in particular by developing a crisis management concept relating to the reorganization and training of the Malian defense forces.”

In other words, five powerful EU nations have just given a vague sign of approval to a tentative proposal to send troops to combat the insurgency in Mali.

This seems to contradict statements from France, Mali's former colonial master and a European leader on Africa policy. As recently as Tuesday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that French or European direct military intervention was out of the question. As for air support, neither Europe nor France will intervene militarily," he said then, according to the AP. "When we say no troops on the ground, that means `troops in the air' too ... But bringing in information, intelligence is another thing."

Le Drian may be drawing a distinction between trainers and combat troops; the former may be still on the table while the latter are not. The details remain murky, as no particular plan has been approved. That will be discussed further at a Nov. 19 conference of European foreign and defense ministers...

/... http://www.ibtimes.com/diplomats-hint-european-union-military-intervention-mali-884342

Edit: Note on the EU's CSDP:

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), formerly known as the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union (EU) and is the domain of EU policy covering defence and military aspects. The ESDP was the successor of the European Security and Defence Identity under NATO, but differs in that it falls under the jurisdiction of the European Union itself, including countries with no ties to NATO.

Formally, the Common Security and Defence Policy is the domain of the European Council, which is an EU institution, whereby the heads of member states meet. Nonetheless, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, also plays a significant role. In her position as Chairman of the external relations configuration of the Council, she prepares and examines decisions to be made before they are brought to the Council... - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Security_and_Defence_Policy

See also CSDP web: - http://www.consilium.europa.eu/eeas/security-defence?lang=en

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