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Paris (AFP) Dec 18, 2013
Germany and Britain are providing logistical support to a military force in the Central African Republic, a French minister said Wednesday, amending comments made earlier indicating they were considering sending troops.
Speaking on RTL radio earlier Wednesday, European Affairs Minister Thierry Repentin said that Belgium could send troops at the end of January to prop up a 1,600-strong French force attempting to quell deadly sectarian violence in Central Africa.
"There's also talk of Germany, of Britain," he had added.
But in later comments to AFP, Repentin backtracked and said he was "actually only referring to logistical support from Britain and Germany, which has already been provided" with transport planes.
France has been pushing hard for more help on the ground in Central Africa, which has spiralled into chaos since a March coup by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew president Francois Bozize.
Rebel leader Michel Djotodia was installed as president and disbanded Seleka, however many of the rebels went rogue, spreading terror which government forces could not stop.
Months of massacres, rapes and looting followed, with locals forming Christian vigilante groups in response.
As violence spiked in the capital, France deployed troops to its former colony on December 5 under a UN mandate to support a struggling African peacekeeping force already on the ground.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced other European nations would "soon" deploy troops to Central Africa to help out.
A military source in Brussels told AFP that Belgium was considering the dispatch of some 150 troops for a "protection mission".
The Spanish government has also backed plans to send a Hercules military transport aircraft with a "maintenance and support unit" of up to 60 personnel, subject to parliamentary approval. But it is not likely to include combat troops.
Repentin said that the issue would be discussed and decided on at an EU summit in Brussels Thursday and Friday.
President Francois Hollande is due to speak about the situation at the meeting.
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