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African Union Summit Ends Early

The first summit of the newly formed African Union in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, has ended a day earlier than expected.

African Union officials say the 35 heads of state and representatives in attendance finished their discussions, and did not see a need to hold a second day of talks.

Delegates say the bulk of Monday's closed-door talks centered on the civil wars raging in Ivory Coast, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The president of Burundi, Pierre Buyoya, says AU members have endorsed a plan to deploy an AU peacekeeping force in his country to enforce a December cease-fire, signed between the government and the main rebel group. Ethiopia, South Africa and Mozambique would form the peacekeeping force.

The president of war-torn Liberia, Charles Taylor, says, he believes the task of ending some 20 civil wars in Africa will be difficult at best.

"I don't think any one of us can say we have a definite formula," he said. "What is important is that we talk about them, we come with commitment to solving them and a determination to do what is best for the African people."

Modeled on the European Union, the African Union hopes to eventually achieve social, economic and regional integration. The African Union recently replaced the largely ineffective Organization of African Unity, which for nearly 40 years, was unable to promote stability and growth in Africa.

AU leaders acknowledge that, without peace on the continent, the grouping will not be able to realize its goals of establishing, among other things, a single currency, a central bank, and a regional parliament.

African Union officials say the grouping will issue a final statement Tuesday about what the day-long summit achieved.

Fifty-three member-states of the African Union are also expected to make a joint declaration on a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Earlier in the day, South African President Thabo Mbeki, who currently heads the African Union, urged all African countries to support the U.N. Security Council in its efforts to disarm Iraq through inspections.