Central African Republic: France Confident of EU Troop Support in Central African Republic

The French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has expressed confidence that the European Union will send peacekeepers to the Central African Republic.

The EU is expected to approve sending up to 1,000 peacekeepers at a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

"We now need the support of the European Union," Le Drian said on French television. "Especially to prepare for the future... because the future for the Central African Republic is to have a regular, structured [and] organised army that depends on real political power. And Europe can help on that," he added.

The peacekeeping force will reinforce the more than 1,600 French soldiers, along with an African Union force that is due to be boosted to 6,000 peacekeepers.

It is believed they will help to secure the airport in the capital Bangui.

On Friday, diplomats said that, if deployed, the EU force would be the 28-member bloc's first land operation in six years. In 2008, the EU sent a force to eastern Chad and northeastern Central African Republic as part of regional efforts to deal with the Darfur crisis in Sudan.

Le Drian also said he expects a new interim president, due to be chosen on Monday, to return the country to stability.

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