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Int'l Troops to Withdraw from Cote d'Ivoire in Mid-April
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UN and French peacekeeping troops in Cote d'Ivoire will start a phased pullout from April 16, local media reported Sunday.

The reports cited an announcement by Fernand Amoussou, chief commander of the UN peacekeeping force in the West African country, after a recent meeting with Cote d'Ivoire's President Laurent Gbagbo.

Amoussou said the military buffer zone will also be phased out.

The withdrawal was in line with a peace agreement signed by Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro, leader of the rebel New Forces on March 4. Soro was appointed as prime minister on March 29.

About 7,800 UN troops and a 3,500-member French contingent, known as Licorne (Unicom), are deployed to oversee a bumpy peace process in the country that has been divided into two since a botched coup attempt against Gbagbo in 2002.

(Xinhua News Agency April 9, 2007)

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