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International Military Officials Review Plans for Afghan Peace Force - 2001-12-19


Top military officials from at least 16 countries are meeting in London to finalize plans for an international peacekeeping force for Afghanistan.

Britain has said it will contribute 15 hundred soldiers to the force and dispatch the first 200 to Kabul Saturday when Afghanistan's new interim government led by Hamid Karzai takes office. France has promised 800 troops and Spain 700.

A British spokeswoman told V-O-A about 100 Marines stationed on the H-M-S Fearless in the Indian Ocean will join British troops already in Afghanistan to make up the initial peacekeeping force.

Among other countries represented at the London talks are Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Jordan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey and the United States.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution authorizing the force, possibly Thursday.

Earlier, Afghanistan's designated interim defense minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim said his government is ready to accept a multinational force of three-thousand peacekeepers to be deployed for six months with a limited security mandate.

Mr. Fahim said only about one-thousand foreign troops would be assigned to security duties and another thousand would concentrate on medical, engineering and logistical work. He said the rest would be a reserve force probably based at Bagram airport, north of the capital, Kabul.

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