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Washington (AFP) Dec 06, 2013
Washington praised French military forces Friday for beginning the tough task of helping restore security to the strife-torn Central African Republic.
"We believe that France's strong leadership in committing 800 additional troops and their support to the African Union-led stabilization mission in the CAR (MISCA) sends a forceful message to all parties that the violence must end," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
France deployed its troops on Friday as part of a UN-backed operation to quell violence between Christians and Muslims in its former colony.
"We are deeply concerned by the worsening violence in the CAR, which has resulted in a growing humanitarian crisis and increased the risk of mass atrocities," Harf said in a statement.
The United States has pledged some $40 million in equipment, training and logistical support to the French-African force known as MISCA.
Germany said it was ready to offer transport and refueling aircraft to the French operation, but Harf told journalists she was not aware of any specific requests for US military help.
"Obviously, we would consider them if they came in," she said.
Germany ready to offer France airlift for CAR mission
The German military has five A310 transport aircraft available and would likely offer to fly French forces and equipment to the region if requested, a defence ministry spokesman said.
Unlike in a combat operation, the German parliament would not have to vote on such logistical support, as the flights would head to a country neighbouring CAR, added the spokesman at a regular press conference.
The UN Security Council gave the green light on Thursday for French and African troops to be deployed to the African state, which has plunged into chaos since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted the president in a coup in March.
France's President Francois Hollande has ordered 600 more troops to the country, doubling its force in and around the capital Bangui, which was the scene of Christian-Muslim fighting Thursday that left more than 140 civilians dead, according to a United Nations tally.
London had already offered France logistical support with a C-17 military aircraft.
EU unblocks 50 mn euros to support C. Africa operation
The money comes on top of 245 million euros in development and humanitarian aid already provided by the EU to help the African state, which has plunged into chaos and bloodshed since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted the president in a coup in March.
"I salute France for its initiative and courage," Barroso told AFP in Paris just hours ahead of the opening of a major France-Africa summit due to focus on security in the continent and on CAR.
"France is taking on a big responsibility which we must all support, as Europeans.
"We have unblocked an extra 50 million euros to... support this African mission."
The UN Security Council gave a green light on Thursday for French and African troops to be deployed in the Central African Republic to try to restore order.
Shortly after the go-ahead, French President Francois Hollande ordered an additional 600 troops to the country, doubling the force it already had in and around the capital Bangui, which was the scene of a sectarian bloodbath early Thursday that left more than 120 people dead.
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