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US To Withdraw Some Peacekeepers, UN Confirms

US To Withdraw Some Peacekeepers, UN Confirms

The United States Government has informed the United Nations that Washington will withdraw some US personnel from the world body's peacekeeping operations, a UN spokesman confirmed today.

"We have taken note of that decision with regret," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in response to reporters' questions at the daily briefing in New York.

Last week the United States announced that it would not proceed with a Security Council resolution that would have extended, for a third consecutive year, the immunity of some UN peacekeepers from prosecution by the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

Washington had introduced a text in May to renew the peacekeepers' exemption from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is based in The Hague. First adopted in July 2002, and renewed last year, the text shields members of UN peacekeeping missions who come from nations that have not ratified the treaty setting up the ICC from investigation or prosecution. That protection expired Wednesday.

Last month, Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed Washington's decision not to pursue the exemption. "The outcome was a good one for the Council, and I think also for the Americans," he told reporters. "The unity of the Council is extremely important - it is not form; it's substance."

The Secretary-General also voiced hope that "everyone will see it as a helpful decision" and that the US would not withdraw from peacekeeping operations.

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