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UN Warns Liberian Rebels to End Deadly Seige of Capital


U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan warns that rebel forces fighting for control of Liberia's capital, Monrovia, are "disqualifying themselves" from participating in the nation's future.

Mr. Annan has appealed to the fighting factions in Liberia to honor a ceasefire agreement. In particular, he said, the rebel group, called Liberians United For Reconciliation and Democracy, or LURD, must end its deadly siege and shelling of Monrovia.

"I think by this reckless behavior that is killing many innocent Liberians and making it impossible for us to deliver humanitarian assistance, they are disqualifying themselves from any future role in Liberian life," Mr. Annan said.

The rebel forces have rejected a U.S. request to withdraw from Monrovia. Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte expressed concern that weapons are flowing to the rebels from outside Liberia. However, he would not say if the United States would cut off military support for Security Council member Guinea for apparently supporting LURD.

"Certainly it is a cause of concern that the LURD appears to receive logistical support from the country of Guinea from Guinean territory and we believe that it is important that all outside countries refrain and desist from providing any weapons to the parties to the conflict in Liberia," Mr. Negroponte said.

The fighting continues in Liberia, worsening a humanitarian crisis.

Officials from ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, are finalizing plans to deploy two battalions of Nigerian troops as part of a regional peacekeeping mission.

A U.S. force is also on its way to the Liberian coast to assist the peacekeepers.

But the Bush administration said it will not send American forces into Liberia before the arrival of ECOWAS troops, an announced cease-fire, and the departure of Liberian President Charles Taylor.

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