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Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 08:31 GMT
UN bogged down over Afghan peacekeepers
UN Security Council in session
The differences should be resolved this week
The United Nations Security Council has made little progress towards issuing a mandate for the multinational force which is due to start arriving in Afghanistan at the end of this week.

The British Government has already given details of an advance contingent of soldiers it expects to arrive in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Saturday.

Russia and France are said to want strict time limits... while Britain and the US are said to be arguing for a more open-ended mission

Most diplomats expect Security Council members to adopt a resolution before then, but BBC UN correspondent Greg Barrow says the vote may appear little more than a rubber stamp because of plans already announced by the governments of the major troop-contributing nations.

The reason for the slow pace of diplomacy at the UN has been put down to differences of opinion among the five permanent members of the Security Council over the scale and the scope of the proposed multinational force.

There has been some dispute about whether the international force would be given a mandate under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which allows the use of force to deal with threats to peace and acts of aggression, or on the basis of Chapter Six, which would only sanction to use force in self defence.

Chapter 7 of the UN Charter allows the UN to:
Make wide use of sanctions
Employ military force
Call on any member to supply armed forces
Correspondents say the Council favours equipping the force with the more robust of the two mandates.

But Russia and France are said to want strict time limits on the period in which foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan, while Britain and the US are said to be arguing for a more open-ended mission.

There is also the question of how the multinational security force will relate to the command and control structure of the American-led military operation already under way in Afghanistan.

Diplomats who have been following the discussions say they expect these differences to be resolved in the coming days, clearing the way for a swift adoption of the new resolution.

See also:

19 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan powerbrokers: Who's who
18 Dec 01 | South Asia
Efforts intensify to agree Afghan force
19 Dec 01 | South Asia
Afghan leader ready for foreign troops
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