EU to decide on action in Central African Republic in January

BRUSSELS Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:52am EST

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will decide next month on a joint operation in the Central African Republic in support of U.N.-backed French military intervention to stabilize a country racked by sectarian violence, French President Francois Hollande said.

"I am not asking that troops come to take part in military actions... what we need is a presence for specific missions such as protecting the airport, helping security, medical and humanitarian assistance," Hollande said after an EU summit.

He told a news conference that several European countries had already offered help and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton would propose a range of options for a joint European mission to be decided in late January. Their presence was more important for political than for financial support, he said.

France sent some 600 troops to its former colony this month to stop massacres between Muslim and Christian militias sparked by a March coup.

(Writing by Paul Taylor)

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