Latvia may deploy more troops to hotspots after French request

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Latvia could be sending more troops to the international missions in Mali or the Central African Republic (CAR), Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told BNS on Tuesday. While Wednesday morning Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis told Latvian Television that Latvian troops could participate in training the Iraqi army. 

Rinkevics said that participation of Latvian soldiers in the military operations against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group is not being considered.

"The request does not give a specific geographic location. It is a request to help France by sending replacements to the EU military missions, relieving the French soldiers so that they could fight the IS. It could be Mali or the CAR. We have experience in both those operations,” the Latvian foreign minister said.

”We might also think about how we could be of help in the Mediterranean,” Rinkevics said, adding that Latvia’s participation of any military operations in Syria was not being considered.

He said he had received the request from France on Monday and had forwarded it to the Latvian Defense Ministry which might soon come forth with specific proposals about how Latvia could help France.

While Bergmanis told Latvian Television that Latvia has a number of options of answering the French request, like increasing the military presence in Mali or participating in training the Iraqi army. He noted, though, that Latvia's help should be matched with its abilities.

After the Paris attacks, Latvia like all EU states has received an assistance request from France under Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty. France has asked to provide both military and non-military support to operations against Islamic militants.

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