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Somalia's Interim Government Welcomes UN Draft on Peacekeepers


Somalia's interim government has welcomed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize a regional force to protect the fragile government.

A Somali official, Information Minister Ali Ahmed Jama Jangali, said Saturday the U.S.-led proposal is a step in the right direction to stabilize his country. He said he hopes the draft will be adopted quickly.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, circulated the proposal at the Security Council on Friday. He said the resolution envisions an eight thousand-member peacekeeping mission staffed by a seven-nation African regional group known as the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

However, the powerful Islamist faction that has seized control of most of the country rejected the proposal today. An Islamist spokesman says the group is opposed to the idea of foreign troops coming to Somalia.

Meanwhile, residents of a town south of Baidoa say Islamist fighters have taken over control from government troops there. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Earlier Saturday, Eritrea warned that the draft resolution on Somalia would only increase strife in the Horn of Africa nation. In a statement, the foreign ministry called the U.N. proposal "ill-advised."

The statement said Somalia's transitional government has never had popular legitimacy and does not have the support of the Somali people.

The draft resolution also would ease a 14-year arms embargo against Somalia that has largely failed to keep weapons out of the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.