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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union on Monday banned the export of arms and the sending of mercenaries to Central African Republic, which is racked by sectarian violence.
The ban follows a U.N. Security Council resolution this month requiring all countries to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and related materials to the landlocked, mineral-rich nation of 4.6 million people.
The EU ban covers financial and technical assistance, including mercenary personnel, but exempts materials used solely for international peacekeeping efforts and by French forces deployed in the Central African Republic.
Speaking in Brussels last Friday, French President Francois Hollande said the 28-nation EU would decide next month on a joint operation in the Central African Republic to support a French military intervention.
France sent some 1,600 troops to its former colony this month to stop massacres between Muslim and Christian militia triggered by a March coup.
Central African Republic is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium, but decades of instability and the spillover from conflicts in its larger neighbors have left the country mired in cycles of crises.
Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Gareth Jones