PM to discuss peacekeeping forces at UN

16th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS, March 15, 2007 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was Thursday to meet with UN chief Ban Ki-moon to discuss his country's contributions to global peacekeeping operations.

UNITED NATIONS, March 15, 2007 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was Thursday to meet with UN chief Ban Ki-moon to discuss his country's contributions to global peacekeeping operations.

It marks only the second visit by Villepin to the United Nations since he made an impassioned speech to the United Nations as French foreign minister four years ago against invading Iraq.

He said he wanted to review the situation of peacekeeping troops before the first round of French presidential elections due next month.

"We have thousands of soldiers deployed with peacekeeping forces around the world. The president (Jacques Chirac) asked me to go to New York to review these commitments and look at the perspectives for France," Villepin said.

He added Paris wanted to define the first stages of a withdrawal of French troops from the Ivory Coast before the new French president takes office in May.

There are currently 3,500 French soldiers stationed with the 7,800 UN troops in Ivory Coast which has been rocked by clashes between rebels and forces loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo.

Under a deal reached on March 4 between Gbagbo and the rebel leader Guillaume Soro, a new government is due to be formed to allow the gradual retreat of international forces.

France also has 1,600 troops deployed with UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, and some 1,100 in and around Kabul until the beginning of April.

Villepin was also set to take part in a conference at Harvard University on the United States and France faced by a changing world order.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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