Britain offers France more military aid for Mali mission

LONDON Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:49pm IST

Members of the Royal Air Force Air Movement Services push a pallet loaded with French Army rations off a C17 cargo aircraft after delivering it to Bamako, Mali, January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Members of the Royal Air Force Air Movement Services push a pallet loaded with French Army rations off a C17 cargo aircraft after delivering it to Bamako, Mali, January 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is offering France further assistance in its military operations against Islamist rebels in Mali, but will not take a combat role, Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said on Monday.

Cameron spoke to French President Francois Hollande late on Sunday about the conflict in the West African state, where French and Malian government forces are battling Islamist insurgents.

Britain has already provided two C-17 military transport aircraft and a Sentinel surveillance plane to the operation.

"We are keen to continue to provide further assistance where we can and depending on what French requirements there may be," Cameron's spokesman said.

"The position on 'no combat role' is absolutely unchanged."

Britain's national security adviser, Kim Darroch, was in Paris on Monday to assess French military needs, but any British assistance will be restricted to logistics, transport, intelligence and surveillance, the spokesman said.

Britain is also sending troops numbering in the 10s to take part in a European Union mission to train Malian forces.

Cameron has highlighted the threat from North Africa and the Sahel in recent weeks, and has spoken of a "generational struggle" to counter militant Islamism in the region.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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