EU states wary of Congo peacekeeping mission

28th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

28 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Belgium and Sweden are prepared to join France and Germany in an EU force to help safeguard elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, diplomats have said.

28 February 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgium and Sweden are prepared to join France and Germany in an EU force to help safeguard elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, diplomats have said.

The UN has asked the EU to deploy 800 troops to help protect Congo's elections, but most member nations are wary of offering troops to the potentially risky mission, Reuters reported.

"Sweden and Belgium signalled a readiness. The aim is still for a broad participation," one diplomat said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

The Belgian role is likely to be limited to offering logistical support, while France and Germany are prepared to contribute troops, but neither is keen to lead the mission.

And Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said Monday's talks yielded little progress.

He added that Germany remains wary of the mission because operations might occur beyond the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.

De Gucht also said there is no clear vision of what the EU force could do or whether it will be effective, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported.

Congo's first free elections since independence from Belgium in 1961 will be held on 18 June.

The EU had wanted to decide on the mission by the end of this month, but one diplomat has said military planners were still working on options for the force.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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