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Germany approves more soldiers for UN mission in Mali

Associated Press logo Associated Press 11/01/2017
FILE - In this Tuesday April 5, 2016 file photo, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen, left, speaks to German soldiers next to the commander of the German troops, Lieutenant Colonel Marc Vogt, right, at Camp Castor near Gao, Mali. The German government on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017, has approved an expansion of the country's military deployment in Mali, with Berlin sending more helicopters to support the U.N. peacekeeping mission there. (Michael Kappeler/Pool Photo via AP) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Tuesday April 5, 2016 file photo, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen, left, speaks to German soldiers next to the commander of the German troops, Lieutenant Colonel Marc Vogt, right, at Camp Castor near Gao, Mali. The German government on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017, has approved an expansion of the country's military deployment in Mali, with Berlin sending more helicopters to support the U.N. peacekeeping mission there. (Michael Kappeler/Pool Photo via AP)

BERLIN — The German government has approved an expansion of the country's military deployment in Mali, with Berlin sending more helicopters to support the U.N. peacekeeping mission there.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet on Wednesday approved a one-year extension of the mission in Mali. Under the new mandate starting Feb. 1, which requires parliamentary approval, the maximum number of German soldiers in Mali will be raised from 650 to 1,000.

At present, Germany has about 530 soldiers in the U.N. peacekeeping force taking care of reconnaissance and other duties.

It plans to send extra transport and combat helicopters, but not until March at the earliest and for a limited period. Those aircraft will replace helicopters being withdrawn by the Netherlands.

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