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Powell to Discuss Liberia with US Lawmakers


Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with members of the U.S. Senate at the Capitol on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of sending U.S. troops to Liberia. Many lawmakers would like the United States to play a role in securing peace in Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves in the 19th century.

But many also are hesitant about over-extending U.S. forces, which are already heavily involved in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I am concerned our forces are stretched very thin world-wide," says Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Lawmakers also do not want a repetition of what happened the last time the United States undertook a peacekeeping operation in Africa. It was a decade ago in Somalia, where 18 American troops were killed in a clash with local militias in Mogadishu.

Senators, including Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, have questions about the costs and the duration of any U.S. peacekeeping mission in Liberia. "Will the United States participation in the leadership over-stretch our resources? What are the costs? What commitments are we making? What is our exit strategy? What are our plans for the coordination of long-term stabilization efforts?"

President Bush Monday said he was open to sending U.S. troops, but he said any deployment would be limited in size and scope.

The United States is under international pressure to send troops to enforce last month's cease-fire between forces loyal to President Charles Taylor and rebels fighting to oust him. West African nations have offered three-thousand troops and suggested the United States contribute two-thousand.

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