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Austria looks to intensify responsibilities with more peacekeepers

The Balkans and parts of Africa are due to see an increase in peacekeepers from Austria, as the Defence and Foreign Ministries look to intensify international responsibilities.

A further 230 peacekeepers will be sent from Austria to Kosovo, Bosnia and to the EU's Central African Republic force. This will bring the country's total number of peacekeepers to over 1000.

The news follows the announcement by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, newly appointed to the position in December 2013, that he wanted to "show we are serious about our international responsibilities".

Defence Minister Gerald Klug said on Tuesday that increased engagement in Africa is on the Austrian political agenda. "I don't rule out that we will engage more intensively," he said.

The move comes after an internationally unpopular withdrawal of peacekeeping troops from the Golan Heights, an area whose ownership has historically been under dispute between Israel and Syria.

"The withdrawal from Golan certainly didn't win us any points internationally and so I consider it positive that we have decided to raise the number of peacekeepers in international missions," said Kurz.

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