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European Union Countries to Join Afghan Peace Force - 2001-12-15


European Union leaders holding a two-day summit near Brussels say some European countries will likely contribute troops to a United Nations peacekeeping force for Afghanistan.

Several member states denied an earlier announcement that the 15-nation E-U would make up the full peacekeeping force. Officials said the European Union has neither the resources nor the structures to set up such a force on its own.

The Foreign Minister of Belgium, the current president of the E-U, had said on Friday that the European Union would contribute a force of three-thousand to four-thousand troops.

Britain is expected to lead a United Nations-authorized international force in post-Taleban Afghanistan.

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.

In nearby Brussels, where a major anti-globalization protest is being held, police used tear gas and water cannon to break up groups of rioting militants.

Most of the protesters marched peacefully through the Belgian capital. Authorities expelled 60 Germans linked to the violent incidents.

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