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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
Europe backs African army plan
By Martin Plaut
BBC Africa analyst

Africa is looking to Europe for increased assistance at a high-level meeting to begin in Ireland.

The US is set to provide training for an African defence force
Africa will be asking for financial support for a wide range of projects envisaged by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), but at least as important will be discussions on security matters.

African leaders are determined to try to end their continent's reputation as a giant crippled by endless civil wars and military coups.

For the last two years they have been developing a co-ordinated response to the problems of insecurity.


Earlier this month the African Union elected the continent's first ever Peace and Security Council - a body designed to oversee Africa's military needs.

Five regional representatives will co-ordinate brigade-strength rapid reaction forces - although these will take years to develop.

The Nigerian role in sending peacekeeping troops to Liberia and South Africa's part in providing troops in Burundi are seen as models for future action.

The whole concept has the backing of the US, which has promised training and support.

Now the European Union has come in behind the proposal - promising $300m of aid.

Training of the future force will be co-ordinated by the Kofi Annan Centre, which has recently been established in Ghana.

Together these measures should help Africa mend its own fences, rather than relying on international help to solve its conflicts.

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