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Mali

Germany to send noncombat troops to support Mali military

Germany's parliament has approved plans to send up to 330 troops to Mali to help train the West African country's military and provide logistical support. However, Germany will not contribute troops to combat operations.

The Bundestag, or lower house of Germany's parliament, voted by a wide margin Thursday to authorize contributing up to 180 soldiers to an EU task force that will help train the Malian army, a plan previously approved by the Cabinet. The lawmakers also approved up to 150 German soldiers for air transport and refueling operations.

In January, France intervened to halt an Islamist advance on Mali's capital, Bamako, and force rebels out of cities they had seized in the country's north. French and Chadian forces continue to fight the militants in a guerilla war in some areas. Other African countries have also contributed troops to the operation.

In other developments on peacekeeping in post-conflict Mali, France announced on Wednesday that it would not formally propose setting up a UN force to take over until at least April.

French troops will hand over to the UN peacekeepers "when the security conditions allow it," said Gerard Araud, France's UN envoy, though he didn't give a timeframe.

mkg/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)