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US Submits Resolution Liberian Peacekeeping Force

U.S. Submits Resolution for Liberian Peacekeeping Force

Ambassador Negroponte presents draft to U.N. Security Council

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The United States submitted a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council July 30 that would support a multinational force for Liberia as well as a longer-term U.N. peacekeeping operation.

"Today we submitted to the council a draft resolution that would mandate a multinational force that would go into Liberia in support of the cease-fire and the humanitarian situation and which would also pave the way for the prompt creation of a United Nations peacekeeping force thereafter," U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said.

The ambassador said there will be more discussions on the text at the so-called "expert level" and delegations will have to consult with their capitals before any draft is put to a vote. While not predicting when the vote will take place, he said "we're certainly moving as quickly as we possibly can."

Talking with journalists after a private meeting with Security Council members, Negroponte said that "the key point here is that we're now moving to adopt a resolution which would authorize the dispatch of a multinational force starting initially with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) units and specifically two battalions from Nigeria."

The resolution would not create the U.N. peacekeeping force, the ambassador explained, but "would ask the secretary general and his staff to make recommendations at an early date to the council with respect to the creation of a peacekeeping force that could be deployed as soon as possible, hopefully by the first of October."

President Bush said in a news conference earlier in the day that Liberian President Charles Taylor must go, the ambassador pointed out, "and the sooner the better, and we have reference to that in our draft resolution as well," he said.

"An important part of this entire situation is that President Taylor live up to his commitment to leave Liberia," he said.

Negroponte said the U.S. delegation also talked to council members about the importance of other countries not providing any support to the rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), and references to that issue may also be added to the resolution.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan sent a letter to the Security Council July 29 saying that he is "deeply concerned at the dramatic deterioration of the situation on the ground" in Liberia and that accelerated deployment of the ECOWAS vanguard force to Monrovia is "absolutely essential."

Plans have already been firmed up for an ECOWAS vanguard force made up of three battalions as the first phase of a three-phase international effort to help Liberia, the secretary general said. The full deployment of a multinational force would be phase two, followed by a U.N. peacekeeping operation as phase three.

Two of the vanguard battalions will be from Nigeria. The first one deployed would be transferred from the U.N. Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), followed by a battalion from Lagos. The third battalion will be made up of 250 troops from Ghana, 250 troops from Mali, and 250 troops from Senegal.

The primary task of the ECOWAS vanguard force would be to stabilize the situation in Monrovia as President Taylor departs for Nigeria as he has agreed, the secretary general said.

"UNAMSIL stands ready to transport the Nigerian battalion that will be transferred from the mission, since it was due for repatriation under the mission's draw-down plan," the secretary general wrote to the Security Council. "Should it become necessary, and if authorized by the Security Council, UNAMSIL also has the capacity to sustain that battalion, as well as the second Nigerian battalion, for a limited period in Liberia."

On July 25 President Bush ordered a U.S. naval amphibious force with more than 2,000 marines to a position off the coast of Liberia. It is expected to arrive within a week.

The United States also has offered $10 million to support the ECOWAS deployment, which Nigeria indicated was not sufficient, the secretary general said at a press conference July 30.

"This is why my proposal should allow us to support them (ECOWAS) and advance money from the budget of UNAMSIL to get them there urgently and sort things out," Annan said.

Negroponte said he expected that the resolution which authorizes the use of UNAMSIL resources will solve the problem, so that the vanguard force will be deployed as early as possible in August.

Asked about what role the United States will play in the multinational force, Negroponte said he was not able to say at this time.

"At the moment what we're talking about is providing support to ECOWAS and the United Nations in this effort to bring peace to Liberia and to deal with this very, very desperate humanitarian situation," the ambassador said.

In his four-page letter to the Security Council July 29, the secretary general detailed how he envisioned the peacekeeping scenario to unfold over the next few months and what the tasks of the longer-term U.N. peacekeeping operation would entail.

He has already appointed Jacques Klein, an American with extensive U.N. peacekeeping experience in the Balkans, as the special representative to lead and coordinate U.N. activities in Liberia.

Annan said it is essential that the council "authorize a robust mandate for the envisaged United Nations peacekeeping force, in order to ensure that it has a credible deterrence capability. The overall objective of the United Nations peacekeeping operation would be to support the implementation of the envisaged comprehensive peace agreement, culminating in the holding of free and fair elections, which should be a key -- but not the only -- benchmark for the gradual draw-down of the mission."

Other military tasks of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, the secretary general said, would be disarming and demobilizing the armed groups, providing security at key locations and government buildings, including major sea and air port, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and protecting civilians facing violence in areas of its immediate deployment.

A U.N. assessment mission will be sent to Liberia to determine the number of U.N. peacekeeping troops and other personnel needed, he added.

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