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EU diplomats move closer to deploying force in CAR

BRUSSELS -- European Union foreign ministers took the first step Monday toward deploying an EU military force to assist French and African troops trying to quell anarchy in Central African Republic.

France, which sent 1,600 soldiers to the CAR last month, wants help. The foreign ministers of the 28-nation European Union agreed Monday on a “crisis management concept,” for a multinational European force that would be active for six months and tasked with helping stabilize the situation in and around Bangui, the CRA's violence-torn capital. Where the soldiers are to come from is still in question.

What's more, “approval of concept doesn't mean there will be an operation,” said a European Union official who attended the foreign ministers' session, and spoke on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to make on-the-record comments. A diplomat from a large EU member nation independently confirmed the approval.

EU diplomats interviewed before the meeting said the force, if fielded, would be around battalion strength, perhaps 400-600 troops.

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