JOSE RICHARD POUAMBI
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) -- A diplomat says France may increase its troop presence in Central African Republic to back an African Union peacekeeping force, going beyond protecting French interests in the country.
During a visit to Bangui on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the 450 French soldiers now based at the airport "will be involved in operations to restore security."
A senior French diplomat says the number of French troops could grow to 700 to back the AU force, though they will not be involved in front-line operations.
The diplomat requested anonymity because of a lack of authorization to speak on the record.
The AU peacekeeping force is expected to total 3,600 troops.
Central African Republic has been in turmoil since rebels overthrew the president in March.
Associated Press Writer Sylvie Corbet contributed to this report from Paris.
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