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PM urges European Congo peacekeeping mission

Published on 19/01/2006

19 January 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has discussed with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York the possibility of sending peacekeeping European troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Congo will stage national elections later this year and the European troops would reinforce UN peacekeeping troops already in the region.

There are currently 16,000 UN troops stationed with the MONUC peacekeeping force in the Congo, broadcaster VRT reported on Thursday.

The 3,000 European troops would be placed on alert for possible violence or conflict as Congolese voters head to the polls.

Verhofstadt raised the proposal with Annan while on a primarily economic state visit to the US. The Belgian leader also discussed the idea with Congolese President Joseph Kabila over the telephone.

Annan requested that Belgium also deploy troops, but Verhofstadt said he only wanted to provide logistical support.

“We learned from the Rwanda debacle that is not a good idea to place soldiers for an extended period of time in a former colony,” Verhofstadt said.

The elections in the Congo are expected to be held in April.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news