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French FM confident of UN force for Ivory Coast in "coming weeks"

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin expressed confidence that a UN peacekeeping force would deploy “in coming weeks” to restive Ivory Coast, where some 4,000 French troops are monitoring a cease-fire. On a flying visit to the west African state, a former French colony, de Villepin said he hoped that a UN force would deploy soon to lay groundwork for elections next year and assist with the disarmament of rebels whose uprising in September 2002 plunged the country into chaos. “In coming weeks, UN troops will deploy in Ivory Coast, taking over from west African forces who have with the French Operation Unicorn accomplished something remarkable,” de Villepin told French nationals gathered to welcome him back to Ivory Coast more than one year since his last visit, when the world’s top cocoa producer was in the throes of civil war. “I am personally very confident that it will be possible to soon put in place a UN deployment that will ensure the stability of the entire country.” Full Story

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