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Donors pledge $455 million to Mali military push

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published January 29, 2013 at 7:29 a.m. Updated January 29, 2013 at 9:26 a.m.

African and Western nations on Tuesday pledged more than $450 million to fund an African-led military force to fight Islamist extremists in Mali.

Britain, meanwhile, announced that it has offered to send up to 200 military officers to help train a West African force in Mali, including up to 40 people that could be sent to Mali as part of an EU training mission of 500 personnel.

At the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia, a top official, Ramtane Lamamra, said nations had pledged $455.5 million for the United Nations-authorized African-led Support Mission in Mali, or AFISMA. The AU says the support mission requires an initial budget of $461 million.

Additional support needed for Mali’s army and the West African bloc known as ECOWAS raises the overall financial need to near $960 million.

African nations like Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Gambia and others lined up with developed countries like the United States, Japan, Germany and the U.K. to pledge funds to the military effort.

Johnnie Carson, the State Department’s top Africa official, said at the African Union gathering that U.S. assistance for the Mali effort would total $96 million, pending Congressional approval. Carson said that includes $32 million previously pledged and $13 million already spent aiding military efforts.

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