Force may no longer be needed

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The Independent Online
Britain and other countries that were planning to send troops to Zaire are to meet in Germany on Wednesday to discuss if an international force is still required in the region.

The United States was planning to send 1,000, France 1,000 and the British at least a battalion.

The discovery that a British firm may have been defying a United Nations embargo and supplying large quantities of arms and ammunition to the former Rwandan government during and after the genocide in 1994 of a million of its people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, may cause severe embarrassment. With aid workers risking their lives in the area, an investigation of the alleged arms trade has been demanded by opposition politicians in Britain.

However, in Zaire itself the immediate crisis appears to have eased. By the time troops may have been ready to deploy next week, more than half the 1.1 million Rwandan refugees in eastern Zaire could have returned home voluntarily. Raymond Chretien, the UN special envoy, said a military force was still needed. But South Africa's Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, said that the mission's terms needed to be changed.

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