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Powell:  US, ECOWAS Discuss Possible US Role in Liberia Peacekeeping Operations - 2003-07-22

Secretary of State Colin Powell says U.S. representatives are meeting with officials of the West African regional grouping ECOWAS in Senegal to discuss what role the United States will play in peacekeeping in Liberia. Mr. Powell discussed the issue again by phone Tuesday with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The secretary's conversation with Mr. Annan was their fifth in as many days and reflects intensifying international diplomacy on the Liberian conflict.

In comments to reporters after a meeting with Congressional leaders, Mr. Powell reiterated the Bush administration's intention to support the ECOWAS peacekeeping force being set up for Liberia. He was again non-committal about whether the U.S. would provide combat forces or only logistical help, but said the matter is under active discussion in the region.

"We have representatives of the State Department and the Defense Department in Dakar, Senegal, this morning meeting with ECOWAS political and military leaders to determine how quickly they will be able to put forces in, and what support would be required from the United States," said Mr. Powell.

A U.S. Navy amphibious assault group carrying more than 2,000 U.S. Marines is being moved from the Horn of Africa region to the waters off Liberia in the event President Bush decides to commit troops.