China has offered to send more than 500 soldiers to the UN force seeking to contain Islamist militants in Mali in what would be its biggest contribution to the UN peacekeeping, diplomats said on Wednesday.
The move could be a bid to overcome tensions with the West over the Syria conflict and to strengthen its relations in Africa, where it is a major buyer of oil and other resources.
The final number of Chinese troops who will take part has not yet been decided, diplomats said.
“China has offered between 500 and 600 soldiers,” said one senior diplomat. “We don’t have detail yet on what kind of troops they would be providing.”
“It is a significant move by China,” said another UN diplomat confirming the numbers.