Following a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels today, Foreign Office Minister David Lidington said:
I am pleased to say that European Foreign Ministers this morning unanimously agreed to establish an EU Training Mission (EUTM) to Mali. Following today’s meeting, a Mission Commander has been appointed and operational planning will now accelerate.
There is a clear risk of the region becoming a haven for terrorists, which could threaten Europe and the UK. That is why it is in the clear interests of the UK to support efforts by the French and the Malian Government to stabilise the country.
The training mission will be time-limited with a clear mandate to advise and train Malian armed forces: it will not be engaged in combat. It will help the Malian authorities establish control and be a key contribution to the overall African effort to bring peace and stability to Mali and the Sahel.
Further operational planning is now underway, with the training mission to launch as soon as possible after final details of the deployment are agreed by EU Member States. The EU mission is at the invitation of Mali and in line with the recent UN Security Council Resolutions.
The EU has an important role to play as part of the international response to the crisis in Mali. The EU Training Mission is separate from both the bilateral assistance currently being led by France and the African-led training and support mission, known as AFISMA.
The UK is committed to working with the Malian Government, regional neighbours and international partners to prevent a new terrorist haven developing on Europe’s doorstep and to reinvigorate the UN-led political process in Mali once the extremist advance has been halted.
Read the Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions on Mali
Read the G8 Political Directors statement on Mali
More information on United Kingdom assistance for French Mali operation
Foreign Office travel advice for Mali