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France Sends 150 More Troops to Central African Republic Capital

France sent about 150 more troops to Bangui to support a peace-keeping mission and help protect the 1,200 French citizens living in the Central African Republic capital.

The soldiers were deployed yesterday morning from Gabon to join 250 troops already at the Bangui airport, said Michel Delannoy, a spokesman for the French troops at Camp de Gaulle in Libreville, Gabon’s capital. Delannoy spoke by telephone today.

France has had armed forces in Gabon since the country’s independence in 1960. About 900 French soldiers are stationed in Gabon.

Central African Republic’s President Francois Bozize has invited rebels to enter a coalition government and they are set to start peace talks in Gabon, Gabon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement read on national radio today.

Rebel forces say Bozize hasn’t complied with the terms of a peace agreement in 2007, and oppose his plans to seek a third term in office. They took up arms on Dec. 10 and continue to travel toward Bangui.

The U.S. embassy in the Central African Republic suspended operations last week.

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