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Hollande hopes Poland to join French troops in CAR

20 december 2013, 11:40
0
French President Francois Hollande. ©AFP
French President Francois Hollande. ©AFP
French President Francois Hollande said he expected Poland to announce Friday that it would provide military backing for France's troops in the Central African Republic, AFP reports.

Speaking at the close of a first day of European Union summit talks, Hollande said that "if the decision were confirmed", the French operation would be "considered a European operation and there would be financial aid".

But an EU diplomat said there was a sharp difference between a European and a European Union operation, as only the latter could receive EU funding -- and only on condition of unanimous agreement from all 28 EU nations.

"This would take weeks," added the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We don't need extra troops but a presence," Hollande told a news conference. "What I would like to see, politically, is a European presence. That it not be said that 'France is alone.'"

He also welcomed logistical support offered by Belgium, Britain, Germany, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said earlier this week that other European countries would deploy ground troops to the violence-hit Central African Republic, but he did not identify them.

But there has been no word of ground troops so far from other countries after France deployed a 1,600-strong force to quell deadly sectarian violence in its former colony.

The Central African Republic has spiralled into chaos since a March coup by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew president Francois Bozize, with deadly violence pitting Muslims against Christians.

Faced with reports of widespread atrocities, France on December 5 decided to intervene to prop up an African peacekeeping force already on the ground. They have since been disarming former Seleka members as well as armed Christian militia.

Two French paratroopers have been killed since the start of the operation.

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