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France Calls for More EU Support in CAR

  • Lisa Bryant

French President Francois Hollande pays his respects in front of the two flag-draped coffins bearing the French soldiers who died last week in the Central African Republic, during a ceremony at the Invalides, in Paris, Dec. 16, 2013.

French President Francois Hollande pays his respects in front of the two flag-draped coffins bearing the French soldiers who died last week in the Central African Republic, during a ceremony at the Invalides, in Paris, Dec. 16, 2013.

France is calling for stronger European Union support for its intervention in the Central African Republic, amid fresh violence there and waning popular support back home. France is making its case Monday at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Speaking Monday at a Paris ceremony honoring two French troops who died in Bangui last week, President Francois Hollande thanked the European Union for supporting France's intervention in the Central African Republic.

But France is calling for more help from the 28-member bloc to help the French mission achieve its goals: providing stability and paving the way for democratic transition in the African nation.

So far, Europe has provided financing, equipment and logistical support for France's intervention in CAR, as well as humanitarian aid for the country.

But French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country wanted more and stronger backing.

In an interview with French media, Fabius said two EU countries were considering sending troops. Some critics said France should have mustered more EU support for its intervention weeks ago.

The CAR is among the top items on Brussels' agenda this week, at gatherings that start with Monday's foreign ministers meeting and finish with an EU summit Thursday and Friday.

EU members will also consider a push from Paris to establish a permanent fund for EU military intervention in future hotspots.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that decision was up to member states.

"Particular when it comes to looking at Africa I believe there is more we need to do in support of what the African Union and what African leaders are looking for. And that means thinking carefully about how we give that support… What I'm very clear about is we need to respond effectively, we need to think about how to do that," she said.

France's push comes amid surging sectarian violence in CAR, with some 600 people killed this past week, many of them in the capital Bangui.

French forces have also suffered their first casualties. At home, a new IFOP poll shows public support has shrunk, with only four out of 10 French backing the military intervention.

Hollande and his government still maintain that France's mission will be for a limited duration and is vital to avoid further bloodshed in CAR, a former French colony.
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