UN wants wider role for US troops

THE UNITED NATIONS Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros- Ghali has insisted that the international force led by the United States and being deployed in Somalia to protect food aid supplies, should disarm local warring factions and fan out across the country before handing the operation to UN peace-keepers.

Exposing a deep rift between himself and the Bush administration, Mr Boutros-Ghali made his position clear in a report to the Security Council. President Bush has argued for a much more limited role for the US-led force, which he expects to be withdrawn early in the New Year. Mr Bush said yesterday he would visit Somalia on New Year's Day.

In his report, Mr Boutros-Ghali contested the US position, arguing that it would be a 'tragedy if the premature departure, or remodelling of the Unified Task Force were to plunge Somalia back into anarchy and starvation, and destroy the fragile political progress of recent weeks'.

Mr Boutros Ghali proposes the force should leave only when it has collected heavy weapons from the warlords, confiscated weapons from roaming gunmen, started the task of clearing mines and established secure conditions all over Somalia, not just in the south where the Pentagon intends to confine its operation.

Mr Boutros-Ghali said he had told Mr Bush in a letter this month that without such a commitment from the US-led force, it would 'not be possible to establish the secure environment called for by the Security Council resolution'. But in his report he accepted that, in the long term, an active UN force with the ability to take military action to defend supply efforts would have to be set up.

In Somalia, a convoy of 1,500 US marines moved out of Mogadishu yesterday to prepare for tomorrow's occupation of the eastern city of Bardera, one of the areas worst hit by famine, as the country's two main faction leaders began withdrawing their heavy weapons from the capital.

The US forces rumbled into Baidoa, 150 miles east of Mogadishu, last night and were to begin the 120-mile journey across heavily mined roads to Bardera at dawn tomorrow. French legionnaires are to lead a force north from Baidoa to Oddur tomorrow.

US planes dropped leaflets over Bardera yesterday to announce the marines' arrival, and the US envoy to Somalia, Robert Oakley, was to visit the town today.

The chief US military spokesman, Colonel Fred Peck, denied that the taking of Bardera and Uddor over the Christmas holidays was timed as a public relations exercise for US television viewers. 'We are going because we're ready to go,' he said. But moments later added: 'I know Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are important days for the news media to cover American troops half-way around the world.'

Colonel Peck said that Operation Restore Hope was two weeks ahead of schedule and that the Pentagon might not deploy all of the 28,000 troops originally planned for the Somali operation. 'We can now afford not to send all the troops because of the tremendous response from the international community,' he said. By last night, at least 19,000 US soldiers had arrived, although 7,000 of those were in ships offshore.

Leading article, page 16

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Danny Cipriani of England breaks clear to score his second try
Life and Style
New research says leaving your desk can help you to avoid serious illness
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral