Newspaper article International New York Times

U.N. Debates Scope of New Peace Mission ; Washington Aims to Limit Cost of Sending Troops to Central African Republic

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.N. Debates Scope of New Peace Mission ; Washington Aims to Limit Cost of Sending Troops to Central African Republic

Article excerpt

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has issued his recommendations -- as many as 10,000 soldiers, plus 1,820 police officers -- reflecting forceful lobbying by Washington to limit the mission's costs and size.

The world is watching: That has been the resounding message of world powers in the face of the deadly sectarian strife in the Central African Republic.

Yet how much is the world willing to pay to stop the killings? That awkward debate has begun, behind the scenes, at the United Nations.

The secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on Monday issued his recommendations: as many as 10,000 soldiers, plus 1,820 police officers, to protect civilians from armed militias, along with a civilian team to rebuild the state machinery, practically from scratch.

The recommendations reflect what senior United Nations officials described as forceful behind-the-scenes lobbying by the Obama administration, eager to keep down the size of the force and its price tag.

The senior officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge diplomatic discussions, said the original recommendation had been to send 10,500 soldiers.

"We have had to look at what the situation demands, and also the politics of the Council," a senior official said. The Security Council must authorize any United Nations peacekeeping force, so this proposal will probably be thrashed out in the Council.

The United States pays about a fourth of the United Nations' overall peacekeeping budget, which is at a record $8 billion. As one measure of budgetary pressure, the United States this year did not set aside money for the peacekeeping mission in Mali.

The American mission to the United Nations did not respond to requests for a comment on Mr. Ban's proposal.

There is good reason for United States officials to worry about the cost and scope of this mission, said Peter Yeo, executive director of the Better World Campaign, which advocates stronger American ties to the United Nations. …

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