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German Cabinet approves Mali mission

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February 19, 2013 04:40 AM EST | AP

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet has approved a plan to send up to 330 German military personnel to Mali to help train the country's soldiers and provide logistical support.

The plan passed Tuesday, which still needs Parliament's approval, does not authorize any German participation in combat operations.

Up to 180 soldiers will be part of the European Union's task force of about 500 that is being sent from nations across the 27-nation bloc to help train the Malian army.

Its goal is to make that army good enough to patrol the whole country, including its huge northern region, where French and African troops are fighting to unseat Islamist rebels.

The decision allows for up to 150 Germans to take part in ongoing aerial transport and refueling operations.