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African Conflicts Center-Stage at UN Meeting

African countries are calling on the U. N. Security Council to become more involved in the conflicts affecting the continent, saying limited capacity and resources are hampering AU efforts to resolve them. VOA's Margaret Besheer has more from U.N. headquarters in New York, where the meeting took place.

Members of the African Union's Peace and Security Council met Thursday with the 15 delegates of the U.N. Security Council.

The majority of issues on the Security Council's agenda involve conflicts on the African continent. South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, who chairs the Security Council this month, said the meeting provided a good opportunity for an exchange of views.

"The exchange of views was basically about how we see the issues that we discussed and how they are being addressed," he said. "It was not a summit to make final decisions on Darfur, or final decisions on Somalia, and so on. It was an exchange of views about how we see them."

Sahle Work Zewde represented the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) at the meeting.

"As far as the Peace and Security Council of the African Union is concerned, we have made our presentation on the main conflict situations - Somalia, Sudan, DRC and Côte d'Ivoire," she said. "We feel that we are closer to the issue, we are more familiar, and we have brought some elements for the Security Council members to consider."

She said there is a great need for more U.N. involvement, particularly in Somalia, where the African Union has asked the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to take over from the small AU mission there.

The diplomats also explored ideas for strengthening the AU Peace and Security Council, particularly in terms of capacity building and financing, so it could undertake U.N. peacekeeping operations.

The two councils plan to meet again next year.