BRUSSELS Jan 14 The European Union has no plans
to give any combat role to its upcoming military training
mission in Mali, an EU foreign policy spokesman said on Monday,
following France's intervention in the sub-Saharan state against
al Qaeda-linked Islamists last week.
The European Union plans to speed up preparations to send
military trainers for the Malian army. This
mission is now expected to start in late February or early
But the format of the mission will not be changed for now,
spokesman Michael Mann told a daily briefing. When asked whether
he could rule out a combat mission by the European Union, he
said: "Yes, I can."
Islamist rebels in Mali launched a counter-offensive on
Monday after three days of strikes by French fighter jets on
their strongholds in the desert north.
France is determined to end Islamist domination of northern
Mali, which many fear could act as a launchpad for attacks on
the West and a base for coordination with al Qaeda in Yemen,
Somalia and North Africa.