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 President Bush has argued for a much more limited role for the US-led force, which he expects to be withdrawn early in the New Year.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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital