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European Union to Join Peace Force for Afghanistan - 2001-12-14


European Union leaders have pledged to contribute to a multi-national peacekeeping force for Afghanistan.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel announced the decision on the first day of a two-day E-U summit outside Brussels.

E-U foreign policy chief Javier Solana says Britain will lead the international force, with other members participating. But its remains unclear how many countries will dispatch troops. Senior E-U officials say any operation will have to await a vote by the United Nations Security Council to legitimize the force, which is to provide security in post-Taleban Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, police have used tear gas and water cannon against militants who broke away from tens of thousands of anti-globalization protesters marching through the Belgian capital. The masked protesters smashed windows at several banks, stoned a police station, damaged vehicles and painted anti-capitalist slogans on buildings. Belgian authorities expelled 60 Germans linked to the violent protests.

The other mostly peaceful protesters included environmentalists and leftists demonstrating against unemployment and what they consider economic injustice.

The summit is being held at a royal palace at Laeken. The agenda includes last-minute preparations for the Euro single currency, which will go into circulation New Year's Day, and a drive to restructure the European Union, as it prepares to bring in new members in the year 2004.

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