EU opts to extend CAR mission
The decision still needs ministerial approval, which will likely be given on 20 October.
BRUSSELS - European Union envoys have agreed in principle to extend the mandate of an EU peacekeeping force in Central African Republic by three months to allow more time for the transition to a United Nations force, EU diplomats said on Tuesday.
The decision to extend the mission, until mid-March 2015, was taken by EU member state diplomats meeting in the EU's Political and Security Committee. The decision still needs ministerial approval, likely to be given at the next foreign ministers' meeting on 20 October.
An "anti-balaka" Christian militia took up arms in Central African Republic last year in response to months of looting and killing by mostly Muslim Seleka rebels after they toppled President Francois Bozize and seized power in March 2013.
France sent 2,000 troops to Central African Republic to help some 6,000 African Union peacekeepers restore order.
In response to appeals by President Francois Hollande for more European support, the 28-nation EU agreed in January also to send a peacekeeping force, numbering around 850 soldiers. The force was initially authorised until mid-December.
The United Nations took over the African Union peacekeeping mission this month and plans to roughly double the force to about 12,000 troops.
France had pushed for the extension of the EU mission to allow more time for the UN peacekeeping force to settle in and because the presence of the EU force in the capital frees up French troops to patrol the countryside.