13:25 GMT +316 July 2019
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    In this photo taken Sunday, June 21, 2015, French soldiers look at their sat phone as they are on patrol in the desert south of the village of Deliman, Mali.

    Spain Could Replace French Troops in Mali – Foreign Minister

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    Spain could send its troops to Mali and the Central African Republic to relieve France from its peacekeeping duties in these countries.

    MADRID (Sputnik) — Spain could assist France in the fight against terrorism by relieving Paris of peacekeeping duties in former French colonies of Mali and the Central African Republic, Foreign Minister Jose Garcia-Margallo said Friday.

    "Spain can replace France in Mali and the Central African Republic… so that it [France] concentrates all its efforts on the war in Syria," the minister said in a televised debate on the 13TV channel, referring to France’s air operations against Syria-based extremists who have been linked to recent carnage in Paris.

    Garcia-Margallo added that the decision would be adopted "by consensus" and urged for a "sacred union" against terrorism in the absence of a real EU army.

    At least three died on Friday when Islamist gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako, taking 170 people hostage. A contingent of more than 100 Spanish military personnel is stationed close to the capital as part of an EU mission to train local troops.

    Mali has been engulfed in violence since a 2012 military coup, when separatist tribes seized control over large areas in the northern part of the country. Islamist groups that emerged in Mali over the last decade have recently staged several terrorist attacks in the country.

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    troops, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, France, Spain, Central African Republic, Mali
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