BERLIN (AP) — Germany's defense minister said Wednesday the country will send two military aircraft to help transport African troops to aid in the international effort to drive back al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Mali — a deployment the head of a multi-nation West African regional group said he hoped could "go quickly."
Defense Ministry Thomas de Maiziere said the two C-160 planes will depart once technical details have been resolved, such as where they will be based and refueled. De Maiziere told reporters in Berlin the aircraft would be used to take forces from the 15-nation in West African regional group known as ECOWAS to Mali's capital Bamako.
Separately, after a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ivory Coast President and ECOWAS Chair Alassane Ouattara said that the group wants to "go quickly with the deployment of troops." He was not more specific, but said ECOWAS heads of states would meet Saturday for talks on the issue.
He commended France's action, saying that he would like to see it "supported by all Europeans." Merkel said that she planned on taking up the topic of Mali aid with French President Francois Hollande when he visits Berlin next week to determine "whether there are further expectations of help."
Germany will also be providing €1 million ($1.3 million) for humanitarian aid in Mali where fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people. Germany has been reluctant to be drawn into the conflict even as its close ally France is mounting a major military effort to back Mali's government against the rebel onslaught.