German parliament approves soldiers for Mali
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and lawmakers cast their votes on a deployment of German troops to Mali during a session of the German Bundestag parliament in Berlin, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. AP PhotoThe German parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly approved sending up to 330 German soldiers to Mali to participate in an EU-led training mission and give logistical support to French troops.
The two missions, whose mandates are initially for one year, each won support in separate votes with a large majority in Germany's Bundestag lower house of parliament, the chamber's deputy president Wolfgang Thierse said.
Up to 180 German soldiers can now join the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali which has a 15-month mandate to shake up the ramshackle Malian army in its effort to fight Islamist rebels who last year seized control of the country's vast arid north.
Forty of the German contingent will train Malian forces, while a further 40 will act as medical support staff, and the other 100 will be available to provide logistical and administrative support in areas such as water and energy supplies.
Head of the EUTM mission General Francois Lecointre has said that EU military instructors will train more than 2,500 Malian soldiers starting April 2.
Additionally 150 German soldiers are now ready to provide logistical backup to the French deployment in Mali via help with transport and the refuelling of planes.
No combat troops are planned.
Among the parliamentary groupings, only the far-left Die Linke party had announced it would reject the mandates.
The two German missions are set to cost more than 55 million euros ($73.6 million), according to the defence ministry.