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US support to French forces is free of charge: Pentagon
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jan 22, 2013

Canada to extend Mali transport mission: report
Ottawa (AFP) Jan 22, 2013 - Canada is expected to extend the tour of a military transport aircraft to support French and Malian troops battling Islamist rebels, a local newspaper reported Tuesday.

Ottawa had offered the Boeing C-17 Globemaster plane for a one-week mission. But France has asked Canada and other allies for more air transport help, including carrying a West African force into Mali.

Ottawa is set to approve the mission extension later this week, said the daily Globe and Mail.

Diplomatic sources also told AFP an announcement is likely Tuesday or Wednesday.

Andrew MacDougall, spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however would not confirm the report. "The commitment as it stands now is one plane for one week," he said in an email.

Italy lends logistical support to Mali
Rome (AFP) Jan 22, 2013 - Italy said Tuesday it will send three planes to Mali to help support French and Malian troops battling Islamist rebels after parliament gave the green light for a two- to three-month logistical mission.

Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola said Italy would send "two C-130 transport planes and a 767 plane for refuelling." He had earlier said the transport planes will be used to ship troops and equipment from neighbouring countries offering assistance to Mali.

Between 15 and 24 Italian instructors will also be sent as part of a European mission to help train Malian troops.

Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Tuesday that Italy was "not only engaged in the fight against terrorism but also in the stabilisation and development of the Sahel" region and "couldn't not take part in the Mali operation".

"Mali is going through a serious crisis which renders necessary the support of the international community to avoid the country plunging for good into a situation... worse than in Somalia and Afghanistan," he said.

The United States will not demand payment from France for the use of US transport planes ferrying French forces and equipment to Mali, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

"We're not asking for compensation or reimbursement from the French," spokesman George Little told reporters.

"The focus right now is not on money but is on achieving our shared goal of holding militants in northern Mali."

An initial arrangement had assumed the French would reimburse Washington for airlifting troops, tanks and other hardware to Mali but the Americans have since dropped that requirement, a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The Pentagon said the US Air Force had deployed C-17 cargo planes for five sorties as of Tuesday morning, carrying more than 80 French troops and 140 tons of supplies to the war-torn African nation.

The United States also was providing intelligence to Paris, drawing on its network of satellites and surveillance drones.

France has asked Washington help with refueling its warplanes taking part in the fight against Islamist fighters in Mali but President Barack Obama's administration has yet to approve the request.

Amid questions about the long-term goal of the French operation, the White House so far has taken a cautious approach to backing the French effort despite public declarations of support.

"It's been just over 10 days since the French began their operations. We have provided intelligence support and airlift as well and we're going to continue to work with the French to determine what their future needs might be," Little said.

He denied the administration was deliberately delaying any decision on refueling.

"This is not any kind of slow roll on our part. This is a deliberate effort to consult with the French to assess how best we can best support them in the context of support provided by other countries," he said.

The United States has a vast fleet aerial refueling tankers, far outstripping any other country or NATO ally.

The US military has about 414 tankers, according to the Defense Department, while France has 14, one of the larger fleets in Europe.

Britain open to French requests in Mali operation
London (AFP) Jan 22, 2013 - Britain will consider "very positively" any further French requests for logistical and surveillance support in Mali, Downing Street said Tuesday after security chiefs met to discuss the crisis.

Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in Mali and the French military operation mounted against them.

Britain has already loaned two C-17 transport planes to France and pledged to provide troops to a European Union mission to train the Malian army, but is not considering sending its own forces to the west African country.

"The National Security Council agreed to consider very positively further French requests for logistical and surveillance support," a Downing Street spokesman told AFP.

"Discussions with the French government are ongoing.

"We strongly support the French military operation which was instigated at the request of the Malian government."

The NSC, which meets weekly, comprises 10 high-ranking government ministers. Other Cabinet ministers plus defence and intelligence chiefs attend when required.

Cameron stressed on Monday that Britain was "not seeking a combat role" in Mali.

One possibility is that Britain would consider extending the two-week loan on the C-17s, which are long-range, strategic heavy-lift transport aircraft.

The planes are crewed by Royal Air Force personnel.

It is thought no final decisions were taken at Tuesday's meeting, with the French government and military still establishing what kind of support is most required for the operation.

Cameron has strongly backed French President Francois Hollande's decision to intervene in Mali but the support extends only as far as logisitics and surveillance.

France came to its former colony's aid 10 months after Mali lost over half its territory to Islamists who have enforced an extreme form of Islamic law in northern towns, amid rising fears that the vast area could become a new haven for Al-Qaeda.

Cameron said on Monday that North Africa was becoming a "magnet" for jihadists from other countries, and vowed to use Britain's presidency of the G8 this year to tackle terrorism.


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North Africa: Is this al-Qaida resurgent?
Cairo (UPI) Jan 21, 2013
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