BRUSSELS Jan 11 The European Union will speed
up preparations to send a team to Mali to train the country's
army after Islamist rebels seized the strategic northern town of
Konna, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Friday.
Condemning the rebel attacks, Ashton said the situation
underlined the need for "enhanced and accelerated international
engagement" to help restore state authority throughout Mali.
"The European Union ... will accelerate preparations for the
deployment of a military mission to Mali to provide training and
advice to the Malian forces," she said in a statement.
The EU approved plans in December to send about 200 trainers
to Mali to improve the effectiveness of the Mali army. The first
trainers had been due to arrive in late February or early March.
The European Union would look at targeted sanctions against
all groups affiliated to militant organisations "if need be",