EU rules out military combat mission to Mali

BRUSSELS - The European Union has no plansto give any combat role to its upcoming military trainingmission in Mali, an EU foreign policy spokesman said on Monday,following France's intervention in the sub-Saharan state againstal-Qaida-linked Islamists last week.

The European Union plans to speed up preparations to sendmilitary trainers for the Malian army. Thismission is now expected to start in late February or earlyMarch.

But the format of the mission will not be changed for now,spokesman Michael Mann told a daily briefing. When asked whetherhe could rule out a combat mission by the European Union, hesaid: "Yes, I can."