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Britain to lead Afghan peacekeeping effort



By Richard Roth
CNN New York Bureau

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Britain is expected to announce Tuesday that it will lead a force of international peacekeepers in Afghanistan, diplomats said Monday.

The British-led force is not to be composed of U.N. peacekeepers but will draw its membership from nations willing to participate in an international force, diplomats said.

The move has been expected. The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to officially authorize the force in a resolution later this week.

Expected to contribute forces are France, Germany, Italy, Bangladesh, Turkey, Jordan and others, though a timetable and troop levels have not been set.

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At a joint news conference with Monday in Berlin, Germany, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the peacekeeping force will "require a strong and clear mandate from the United Nations," Reuters reported.

Powell is due in London, England, on Tuesday.

The U.N. must put approve such an operation because the Afghan leadership and contributing countries requested it, diplomats said. The resolution gives the force diplomatic backbone -- especially if the mission runs into trouble.

Under the deal, the U.N. should have its first mandated forces in Afghanistan by December 22, the date an interim government is to assume control of the country.

A western diplomat said Britain "will not take the lead in Afghanistan forever," and hinted the reins might be turned over to an Islamic country at some point.



 
 
 
 



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