US ready to send troops to Liberia

The United States is preparing to either lead or join an international peacekeeping force to monitor a ceasefire in Liberia even as Washington repeated its demand for the President of the war-torn nation to quit.

    International troops to 
    finally intervene in Liberia

    A New York Times report on Thursday said the US would send between 500 to 2000 troops depending on the precise nature of the mission. 

     

    The Pentagon had ordered military planners to prepare detailed options for the US troops, the report said.

     

    The report quoted senior officials as saying it was all but certain that the US would send in its troops.  Once there, they would remain in Liberia only for a few months, they said.

     

    Quit, says Bush

     

    US President George W. Bush has meanwhile repeated his demand that Presdent Charles Taylor leave Liberia.

      

    "We're exploring all options as to how to keep the situation peaceful and stable. One thing has to happen: Mr Taylor needs to leave the country," he told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

     

    Bush, who leaves on Monday on a whirlwind tour of Africa, was expected to decide on Thursday whether to send US troops to Liberia to lead or be part of an international peacekeeping operation, officials said in Washington.

     

    The officials said Bush would make up his mind before leaving  on Friday for the long US Independence Day holiday weekend, after which he departs

    for Africa.

      

    "Everyone has weighed in," one official said, referring to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. "Now it's up to the President."

     

    Truce team in

      

    On Wednesday, a 15-member international monitoring team left Ghana for Liberia to oversee a fragile June 17 truce signed between rebels and Taylor's government.

      

    In Ivory Coast, neighbouring Liberia, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said Nigeria might offer exile to Taylor, who has been indicted by a UN-backed court in Sierra Leone for war crimes during that country's 10-year civil war.

      

    Hundreds have died in the latest fighting in liberia-- the worst phase in a four-year civil war that erupted soon after the end of a seven-year conflict in 1997, the year Taylor, a former warlord, was elected to power.


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