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US pushing for UN vote on Liberia

August 02, 2003

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 1: The United States pushed for a UN vote authorizing a multinational force to intervene in Liberia to restore humanitarian aid and help end the country’s bloody civil war.

With the first contingent of Nigerian troops expected to land in Liberia on Monday, US Ambassador John Negroponte told reporters he wanted the Security Council to vote on Friday night or at the latest early on Saturday.

The resolution lays the ground for any US involvement but does not spell out the role American soldiers would play.

It makes clear that Liberian President Charles Taylor would have to step down and that possible US participation would be brief.

The measure calls for U.N. peacekeepers to replace multinational troops by Oct. 1, a date most U.N. officials and council diplomats believe is far too soon to organize and dispatch troops from a variety of countries.

“Within the house there is some concern about that tight deadline,” said U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard, adding that timing also would depend on whether any West African troops would join the U.N. force.

The main block is US language giving the peacekeepers immunity from prosecution under the new International Criminal Court, militantly opposed by the Bush administration.

Britain has proposed the immunity exclude those nations that have ratified the court’s statutes.—Reuters