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German government agrees 330 troops for Mali support

German Chancellor Angela Merkel chats with German government spokesman Steffen Seibert (R) before the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Sept
German Chancellor Angela Merkel chats with German government spokesman Steffen Seibert (R) before the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Sept

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's cabinet agreed on Tuesday to send up to 330 armed military personnel to Mali to train its troops and provide logistics and transport for French and West African soldiers fighting Islamist rebels.

The German mission, which still needs the approval of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, would not be allowed to take part in any fighting, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

France sent military forces to Mali in January to halt a push by rebels linked to al Qaeda that Western powers feared could turn the West African country into a springboard for further attacks.

The French intervention has pushed the insurgents out of northern Mali's main urban centers into the mountains and desert.

Up to 180 German servicemen and women will join a European Union military training mission in Mali, Berlin said.

Another 150 would help transport African and French troops and fuel aircraft during the one-year mission, it added.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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