Britain provides cargo planes for Mali

Jan. 15, 2013 at 12:48 AM

LONDON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Britain has sent two military transport planes to help the French in Mali but will not be deploying ground troops, a Foreign Office official said Monday.

Mark Simmonds, an undersecretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, told the House of Commons Royal Air Force ground crews may be stationed in the country for no more than a week, The Daily Telegraph reported. France, at the request of Mali's government, agreed to provide military support against rebels with ties to al-Qaida.

"The situation in Mali is a serious concern for the U.K.," Simmonds said. "It would not be in our interests to allow a terrorist haven to develop in northern Mali. As a responsible member of the Security Council, we must support the region in limiting the danger of instability in that part of Africa, threatening U.K. interests."

Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to "limited logistical deployment following a direct request from one of our closest allies," Simmonds said. That will consist only of the two C-17 transports and their crews.

One of the planes was delayed in Paris by technical problems, Simmonds said.

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