LISBON (Reuters) – A European Union military mission to support and train up Mozambican troops to tackle an escalating insurgency linked to Islamic State could be approved next month, Portugal’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Augusto Santos Silva told lawmakers at a parliamentary committee in Lisbon that he hoped the mission would be given the green light during the next meeting of EU foreign ministers scheduled for July 12.
“We hope that…it will be formally approved so we can launch this European mission to support Mozambique in the fight against terrorism”, Santos Silva said.
Mozambique has been grappling with an insurgency in its northernmost province of Cabo Delgado since 2017 and violence has grown significantly in the past year.
Dozens of civilians were killed in Islamic State-linked attacks in the coastal town of Palma in April, and a $20 billion liquefied natural gas project run by oil giant Total was brought to a halt by the violence.
Portugal, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency until the end of the month, has already sent 60 soldiers to Mozambique to train local troops.
Josep Borrell, bloc’s foreign policy chief, said in May the EU could have a military training mission in place in Mozambique within several months, acknowledging the problem was finding additional countries besides Portugal to supply troops.
(By Patrícia Vicente Rua; Editing by Catarina Demony and Jonathan Oatis)