Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

UK and Irish troops in Mali mission

Alan Shatter has said eight Irish soldiers and 18 from the UK will travel to Mali to train military units
Alan Shatter has said eight Irish soldiers and 18 from the UK will travel to Mali to train military units

Irish and British troops are joining forces for the first time to train military units in war-torn Mali.

Defence Minister Alan Shatter confirmed eight Irish soldiers and 18 from the UK will travel to the troubled African country with the Royal Irish Regiment.

The joint deployment will be led by the British and will be part of an overall European Union military training mission.

Mr Shatter said: "This will be the first occasion there has been a formal joint deployment under the UN mandate of mission involving our defence forces and the UK."

Mr Shatter confirmed the mission after bilateral talks with British international security strategy minister Andrew Murrison in Dublin, where European defence ministers are holding an informal meeting as part as Ireland's presidency of the EU.

It will include armed military training as well as human rights issues and the protection of civilians.

Mr Shatter said the military co-operation, almost two years after the Queen's historic visit to Ireland, was a further sign of closer ties between the two nations.

"We would see this as yet another step along the road of the development and continuing broadening and enhancing of relationships with the United Kingdom," he added.

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