Irish troops set to be deployed to Mali

Irish troops are to be deployed to Mali as part of a European military training mission.

8 members of the Defence Forces will partner with UK soldiers as part of the European Union operation.

The mission to Mali will be responsible for providing the Malian Armed Forces with training and advice.

In total 200 European soldiers will deploy to the region with Irish troops due to depart in the next month.

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

The Minister for Defence Alan Shatter announced today that he proposes to seek the approval of the government for participation by the Defence Forces in the planned EU Training Mission.

"Both myself and...Eamon Gilmore have been following this issue very closely and we have been strongly supportive of this EU mission to Mali from the outset" he said.

UN approval expected

The U.N. Security Council is expected to reach an agreement in the next few weeks to deploy up to 6,000 peacekeepers in the country to help stabilise it.

France already decided to send its own soldiers in to fight Islamist rebels in January.

Speaking to Reuters in Dublin, the U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said a consensus was now emerging in Security Council discussions to deploy a peacekeeping force "at the appropriate time".

"It's just a matter of persuading the Malians that a U.N. peacekeeping force is the best way to go and that Sudan was a very different situation from Mali" he said.

Some 4,500 French troops have pushed back advances made by rebels who took control of part of the northern territories last year.