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Germany's Bundeswehr may be expanding its commitments in Africa

German media has reported that the country's military force, the Bundeswehr, may be facing an expansion of its commitments in African countries in crisis. The reports come ahead of an EU vote to discuss the issue.

According to a report in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" on Saturday the German government is planning to help reinforce the ongoing military operation in Mali through a larger and more robust French-German contingent. The newspaper also reported that government would support a possible EU military operation in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) with transport aircraft and aerial refueling.

While that report has not yet been confirmed by the foreign ministry, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said about Africa in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, to be published Sunday, "Europe cannot leave France on its own there.”

Steinmeier said it is in Europe's interests to restore order in CAR, because "when instability, displacement and terrorism threaten Africa, the consequences will arrive in Europe."

He also said that the 28-member bloc should consider giving more support to France's deployment in Mali.

His comments come as EU foreign ministers prepare to meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss deploying troops to back up French and African soldiers in CAR and Mali.

Germany's Bundeswehr already has a training contingent in Mali but the mandate is due for renewal by mid-February. There is currently a team of German military training specialists, including engineers, doctors and paramedics in the country.

France launched a military offensive in Mali, its former colony, in January 2013 to repel an Islamist advance following instability sparked by a coup. Hailed as a success, the operation halted al Qaeda-linked militants from advancing on the capital Bamako.

France is also involved in the deepening crisis in CAR where it has sent 1,600 troops operating under a UN mandate to assist a 4,000-strong African Union (AU) force.

According to the UN, nearly one million people have been displaced by the conflict between Muslim Seleka rebels and the Christian anti-balaka militia. In the capital Bangui, half the population - some 350,000 people - has been displaced

On Thursday, a UN official warned of the risk of genocide in CAR without a stronger international response to the bloodshed.

hc/ccp (AFP, dpa)

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