UN council asks details for AU Somalia force boost

Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:08pm GMT

* AU wants to boost force from 7,200 to 20,000

* U.N. no-fly-zone, naval blockade seen unlikely soon

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 21 (Reuters) - U.N. Security Council countries voiced support on Thursday for boosting the African Union peacekeeping force in conflict-torn Somalia, but told the AU to provide more details of its plans first, diplomats said.

The AU wants to step up its AMISOM force to 20,000 from the current level of 7,200 but needs funding from the United Nations and Security Council authorization. It also wants the council to impose a no-fly-zone and naval blockade on Somalia.

Two Islamist militant groups have waged a three-year insurgency to topple Somalia's Western-backed government. An AU envoy said earlier this month that AMISOM, composed of troops from Uganda and Burundi, was making progress against the rebels in the capital, Mogadishu.

Following a closed-door council meeting, diplomats said the 15-nation body was not opposed to expanding the force in the Horn of Africa nation. But one Western envoy said the AU had not so far substantiated the need for its requests.

"We need to have more concrete information. They have been told to go back and justify what they are saying," the diplomat said.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra, who attended the meeting, later told reporters the council "wanted to know how, and which troops to achieve which political objectives, so they cannot just give us blanket (approval)."   Continued...

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