EU sounds out Turkish ‘contribution’ to Central Africa mission


ANKARA: The European Union has asked Turkey to contribute to a military mission to help end sectarian unrest in the Central African Republic, a Turkish official said Sunday.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrote a letter to Ankara on Friday asking about the prospects of Turkish assistance, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The request came on the same day as the EU and France pledged to sharply increase troop deployments to the country amid mounting concern over spiralling Muslim-Christian violence that has already left thousands dead.
Ashton said the 28-nation bloc planned to double a previously agreed deployment of 500 troops, while France has pledged to send an additional 400 soldiers to its former colony, boosting its troop presence to 2,000.
The Turkish official told AFP that the EU letter did not specifically ask for troops from Ankara but was seeking some kind of Turkish “contribution”. “We are evaluating what we can do,” the official said. European diplomats said troops from member nations could be deployed to Bangui from next month.
Many EU countries are willing to support France in the Central African Republic but are reluctant to get drawn into a bloody conflict between majority Christians and the Muslim community, sparked by a coup last March.
Major EU powers such as Britain and Germany have refused to commit soldiers but have offered logistics support. Diplomats say efforts are focusing on smaller countries, adding that Georgia — anxious to cement good ties with the EU — could supply up to 100 troops while Estonia has offered 55. 

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