No combat role for EU military mission in Mali
BRUSSELS (AFP) - The EU's executive stressed on Monday that there would be no combat role for a 400-strong European Union military training mission in Mali but it will be speeded up due to events, with a launch likely by early February.
EU leaders in December approved a plan to send some 250 military trainers for the Malian army, backed by a protection force and other personnel, bringing the total of EU soldiers to be sent to the West African nation to 400-500.
Asked whether a combat role could be ruled out despite France's military involvement in a Malian offensive against Islamist rebels, a spokesman said 'yes'.
"The training mission still makes sense. It is even more urgent to launch our mission," said Mr Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.