Britain is to transport foreign troops and equipment to Mali amid efforts to halt an advance by rebels, it has been revealed.
The help was agreed in a phone call between David Cameron and President Francois Hollande, after France sent in forces to support the Malian government.
Downing Street stressed that no UK troops would engage in combat operations in the country, but two transport planes are expected to be deployed within 24-48 hours.
“The Prime Minister spoke to President Hollande this evening to discuss the deteriorating situation in Mali and how the UK can support French military assistance provided to the Malian Government to contain rebel and extremist groups in the north of the country,” a spokeswoman said.
“The Prime Minister has agreed that the UK will provide logistical military assistance to help transport foreign troops and equipment quickly to Mali.
“We will not be deploying any British personnel in a combat role. They also agreed that the peacekeeping mission from West African countries needs to be strongly supported by countries in the region and deployed as quickly as possible.
“Both leaders agreed that the situation in Mali poses a real threat to international security given terrorist activity there.”