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EU to Send Peacekeepers to Chad, CAR
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The European Union (EU) member states agreed on Monday to plan a peacekeeping mission to Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) for protection and aid of refugees.

EU foreign ministers, as they met in Brussels Monday, said the 27-nation bloc would continue planning a temporary operation "in support of the multidimensional UN presence in Eastern Chad and North-Eastern CAR."

The United Nations Security Council voiced concerns early this month at the continuing volatility of the security situation in certain parts of Chad and the CAR, which threatened tens of thousands of refugees taking shelter there to flee the conflict in neighboring Sudan.

In a statement, the Security Council reaffirmed its readiness to examine the deployment of a multidimensional UN presence in the regions, to counter in particular armed groups, bandits, and "highway robbers."

Diplomats said the EU peacekeeping troops could be deployed to Chad and the CAR in October at the earliest, who will provide security for 300 UN police officers and civilians, while supporting humanitarian aid efforts.

Preliminary plans for the EU military mission to Chad and the CAR include sending 1,500 to 3,000 EU troops to refugee camps bordering Sudan's troubled Darfur region, with most to be contributed by France, a former colonial power in Chad.

The EU, however, emphasized that any mission should be backed by the United Nations.

Any "operation should be based on a resolution by the UN Security Council, with a clearly defined exit strategy," the EU foreign ministers said in a conclusion statement.
It should be conducted "in full cooperation with the UN and the African Union, and in consultation with the authorities of the countries concerned, as well as, as appropriate, with neighboring countries and humanitarian organizations," they added.

(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2007)

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