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UN Official: Security Council May Discuss Lifting Somalia Arms Embargo

As violence intensified in Somalia Monday, the U.N.'s special representative Francois Lonseny Fall briefed the Security Council on the latest developments. From VOA's New York Bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports the Security Council may reconsider its arms embargo on Somalia.

Fall says he discussed African Union plans to send peacekeepers to Somalia, the humanitarian situation in the turbulent nation, movement along the border with Ethiopia and regional implications with Council members.

Fall said it is crucial to open dialogue between the U.N.-backed transitional federal government based in Baidoa and Islamic militia that has taken control of several towns and cities, including Mogadishu.

The transitional government has requested the United Nations lift its arms embargo to allow the weak government to arm its police. Last week Secretary General Kofi Annan said lifting the embargo would allow more weapons into the nation. Still, Fall indicated the Security Council will reconsider the issue.

"For sure, we know there are a lot of violations of this arms embargo in Somalia today, but the African Union and the TFG [transitional federal government] are working very closely now to come out with all those details and very soon I think they will submit the request to the Security Council and the Security Council will be ready to study the question," he said.

Fall said if Baidoa is lost, the peace process is lost.

He said the U.N. is sending a security mission to Somalia later this week to assess whether the area is safe for humanitarian workers.

Fall said the fact that the Security Council has met three times this month to discuss Somalia is an indication of how concerned the international community is about the situation.