Speaking on the BBC News channel, Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds discussed the UK Government’s offer of logistical support to the French Government:
“The UK has offered, at French request, two transport aircraft. As the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have confirmed, there’ll be no British forces involved in a combat role at all. We’ve been concerned alongside the international community about the situation in northern Mali for some time. The northern part of Mali is controlled by al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations and that poses a potential direct threat to the UK and regional stability.
“We’re working with the United Nations where there have been two resolutions and the African Union and ECOWAS, which is the African regional organisation, to provide both an immediate and a long term sustainable solution to the challenge that is faced in Mali.”
Earlier on Sky’s Murnaghan programme, Mark Simmonds underlined the importance of regional action on Mali. He said it was right that ECOWAS, the western African organisation, would ultimately be at the forefront of action. ECOWAS will form part of the future deployment of a longer-term African led intervention force authorised by UN Security Council Resolutions last year.
Mark Simmonds also noted that there were ongoing discussions on providing training for the Malian Army through a European Union training mission. This was most recently discussed at the European Council in December. He said that the UK would continue to work with international partners to encourage progress on an inclusive political process in Mali which would be important for long-term stability.
Read the Foreign Office travel advice for Mali
Statement on UK assistance to the French Mali operation
United Nations Security Council Press Statement on Mali, 10 January 2013
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2085 on Mali, 20 December 2012
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2071 on Mali and the Sahel, 10 October 2012