From: Biniam Tekle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jan 15 2009 - 12:48:45 EST
U.S. envoy-designee to U.N. skeptical of Somalia force Thu Jan 15, 2009
By Sue Pleming
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The proposed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
voiced strong skepticism on Thursday over the merits of a U.N. peacekeeping
force in Somalia and said the incoming Obama administration would closely
examine the plan.
Earlier this week, the outgoing Bush administration circulated a draft
Security Council resolution that would firm up a plan to deploy a U.N.
peacekeeping force in war-torn Somalia to replace an existing African Union
That plan, which African countries have long been calling for, has been
supported by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but U.N.
officials and some Security Council members have objected the situation is
"This (Somalia) is an enormously difficult and important challenge that the
international community faces," Susan Rice said at a Senate committee
hearing to confirm her designation as the next U.S. ambassador to the United
Asked by Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, whether she thought
a proposed U.N. force had any merits, Rice said such a move would have to be
very carefully weighed.
"I am skeptical too, about the wisdom of a United Nations peacekeeping force
in Somalia at this time," said Rice, who is no relation to the outgoing
secretary of state.
"I certainly do support elements of the current resolution which is pending
to strengthen the African Union and provide it with the resources that it
needs," she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
"The new administration will have to take a very careful and close look at
whether, in six months' time, to in fact support the standing up of a U.N.
force," she said, pointing to the "very tragic history" of previous U.N.
involvement in Somalia.
Eighteen U.S. soldiers died and 73 were wounded in the "Battle of Mogadishu"
in October 1993. The battle, which inspired the film "Black Hawk Down,"
marked the beginning of the end for a U.S.-U.N. peacekeeping force that left
Islamists control most of southern Somalia, feuding clan militias hold sway
elsewhere and 3,000 Ethiopian troops backing the weak government are now
The Bush administration's draft calls on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
to develop a mandate for the proposed U.N. force by April 15. The force's
tasks, it said, should be to assist aid delivery, protect politicians and
U.N. staff, monitor ceasefires and build up Somali security forces.
Susan Rice said a "multi-faceted approach" was needed to Somalia, including
efforts for emergency relief, political reconciliation and a plan to deal
effectively with the "terrorist challenge."
(Additional reporting by Patrick Worsnip at the United Nations; Editing by
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