Irish and British troops are joining forces to train military units in war-torn Mali.

Minister for Defence Alan Shatter confirmed six to eight Irish soldiers and 18 from the UK will travel to the troubled African country with the Royal Irish Regiment.

The joint deployment will be led by the British and will be part of an overall European Union military training mission (EUTM).

Mr Shatter said: "This will be the first occasion there has been a formal joint deployment under the UN mandate of mission involving our Defence Forces and the UK."

Mr Shatter confirmed the mission after bilateral talks with Britain's international security strategy minister Andrew Murrison in Dublin, where European defence ministers held an informal meeting as part as Ireland's presidency of the EU.

The mission will include armed military training, as well as human rights issues and the protection of civilians.

Mr Shatter said the military co-operation, almost two years after Queen Elizabeth's historic visit, was a further sign of closer ties between the two nations.

"We would see this as yet another step along the road of the development and continuing broadening and enhancing of relationships with the United Kingdom," he said.