UK may offer France more military aid for Mali mission

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 21, 2013 11:50 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Monday it would consider giving more help to French forces fighting Islamist militants in Mali, but would not take a combat role in the mission.

France has launched a military campaign against Islamist fighters in Mali at the request of the Malian government, amid fears the vast desert country could become a launchpad for international attacks.

"We'll be looking at other transport and surveillance assets that we can let the French use to help them in what they are doing," Cameron told parliament, adding that the government's security council would discuss the issue on Tuesday.

Britain, which cooperates closely with France on defense issues, has already lent France the use of two C-17 military transport planes.

Cameron's spokesman told reporters earlier on Monday that while Britain supported France's actions in Mali, it would take no combat role in the conflict.

"Our position about troops not being in a combat role is completely unchanged with regard to Mali, and more widely ... when it comes to military-type roles, our view is that they should very much be regionally-led," Cameron's spokesman said.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Andrew Osborn)