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A proposal to dispatch an EU force to the Central African Republic to help African and French troops has failed to convince defence heavyweights Britain and France, diplomats said Thursday. Under the proposal, a unit of up to 1,500 troops known as the EU "Battle Group" -- a force designed for quick intervention abroad and currently led by Britain -- would have gone into the strife-torn country for up to four months to give a larger African force time to fan out and organise. It was backed by the EU's ECHO aid services, the UN's OCHA humanitarian affairs office and analyst groups familiar with the situation in the fraught nation such as the International Crisis Group, one diplomat said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said British diplomats had asked the European External Affairs Service (EEAS), the EU's foreign affairs corps, not to release the paper to other member states.
PARIS (AP) — France has long served as Africa's policeman, sending troops in regularly — and often meddling behind the scenes — to keep the peace and secure its interests on a continent where it was once a major colonial power. In more recent years, as it comes to terms with that colonial past, France has tried to forge a different, more equal relationship, focusing on trade.
The United Nations on Thursday said 1.3 million people in the Central African Republic needed food aid, as the UN Security Council backed an African and French military intervention to halt growing deadly unrest. "In Central African Republic, 1.3 million people are in need of emergency food assistance due to civil unrest," the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a report on world cereal production and needs. The report also issued a food warning for five Sahel countries further West -- Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal -- saying that crops and pastures had been affected by a delayed and short rainy season. "The situation could lead to a new surge in food insecurity and malnutrition," it said.
Johannesburg (AFP) - South Africa crushed world champions India by 141 runs to win the first one-day international at the Wanderers on Thursday.