Russia slams France, UN over in Ivory Coast

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Russia on Thursday accused French and UN peacekeepers of picking sides in the Ivory Coast conflict and acting in potential violation of international law.

"It is necessary to understand the legal aspects of UN peacekeepers and the French contingent" in Ivory Coast, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia accused the two peacekeeping forces of getting "involved in an internal conflict, acting in defence of one side when they had to observe neutrality and be acting in strict accordance with their (UN) mandate."

Russia has traditionally been hesitant to back UN action in regional conflicts and earlier this week requested a special briefing at the UN Security Council to address the situation.

Moscow diplomats came away from that New York meeting noting that its concerns were not addressed.

The Russian foreign ministry said international involvement aimed at removing strongman Laurent Gbagbo from power "will hardly lead to the onset of an era democracy, peace and stability in Ivory Coast."

It also noted that it wanted the conflict resolved "with the help of other African nations."

UN and French attack helicopters this week fired at military camps loyal to Gbagbo and the presidential palace and residence where he is believed to be based.

© 2011 AFP

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