IRISH and British troops are joining forces for the first time to train military units in war-torn Mali.
Defence Minister Alan Shatter confirmed 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 British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond in Dublin, where European defence ministers are holding an informal meeting as part as Ireland's presidency of the EU.
It 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 the Queen's historic visit to Ireland, 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 added.
Approximately 200 soldiers from across the EU will be deployed next month as part of the EU training mission in Mali, where French and Malian troops are battling to regain control of the north of the country from Islamist rebels.
It will be similar to EUTM Somalia, where an Irish general is leading the training of Somalian forces in Uganda. France and a number of Nordic countries will also provide joint teams.
Training is expected to begin in April and will provide the Malian armed forces with military training and advice on improving and maintaining security in the country and restoring the authority of its government.
Mr Shatter said while Ireland and UK forces have worked together in the past - including on UN Blue Hat, EU-led and Nato-led operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan - this is the first joint military contingent and would involve peacekeeping, training and tackling human rights abuses.
He also revealed the defence ministers did not have detailed discussions on whether the conflict in Mali had caused any extra terrorist threats on Europe.
"There is a consciousness that some of the fundamentalists and jihadi groups do pose a threat in a European context, but there's nothing new about that," added Mr Shatter.