Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Monday, 14 January 2013

Mali: No UK troops on the ground, says minister

The UK has no plans to send troops to fight alongside French forces on the ground in Mali, Defence Minister Andrew Robathan has said.

Mr Robathan was responding to a question raised by Labour's shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy during departmental questions on 14 January 2013.

The French military is trying to contain rebels trying to overthrow Mali's government.

Islamist fighters in Mali seized a town in government-controlled territory amid the military intervention.

Mr Murphy asked the minister to spell out the full list of military capabilities offered to the French, and whether he could "rule out the deployment of any additional UK military assets" in Mali.

Mr Robathan said the government had provided "logistical assistance", making available two RAF C17 transport aircraft in response to a French request at the weekend.

He said British involvement in the operations should only last a week, and the Ministry of Defence had made no plans to commit further resources to the war-torn state.

"At the moment we have absolutely no plans to deploy any ground forces to Mali," he told MPs.

Mr Murphy said Labour supported action being taken by the UK government, warning that the situation in Mali was "grave".

Sir Menzies Campbell, former Liberal Democrat leader, said he welcomed the government's support for French forces, adding he hoped the European co-operation would be the "harbinger of things to come".

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