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Poland considering joining EU training mission in Mali

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 16.01.2013 14:01
Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said that the government in Warsaw has not ruled out Polish troops taking part in an EU training mission in war-torn Mali.

French soldiers from 2nd RIMA 'Marsouins' unit ready their ammunition on the tarmac of the military airbase in Bamako on 13 January. France has committed approximately 1,700 troops and air force units to operation Serval in Mali, which now includes 800 troops on the ground and an armor unit: photo - EPA/ARNAUD ROINE

Sikorski, speaking to Polish Radio ahead of an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on the crisis in the west African state on Thursday, said that Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski are being consulted as to whether Poland will send troops on the upcoming training mission.

“A number of factors will affect the decision,” Sikorski told Polish Radio, Wednesday.

“First of all, we are already involved in Afghanistan [where Poland has around 2,000 troops] while other countries have already withdrawn from there.

"On the other hand, we have participated in many EU missions on the African continent, such as in the Congo and Chad," Sikorski said.

Asked directly whether Poland would sign up to the EU training mission, alongside troops from Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Slovenia and Belgium, Poland’s foreign minister said: “It is in Poland’s interest to strengthen European security and defense policy [but] no decision has been taken yet, though this can’t be ruled out in the long run”.

Sikorski added that extreme Islamist control of an African state not far from EU borders poses a real threat to the international community.

"Since Afghanistan and the attacks on Western Europe and New York, we know how dangerous the situation is when terrorists have physical control over a territory. They can then train there and plan operations," he said.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, however, has said that Brussels was not considering a combat role in Mali, where France began military action in the support of the government in the capital Bamako, last Friday, against Islamist troops and its anti-government allies. (pg)

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