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US Supports Emergency Congo Military Force

The United States has declared its support for a U.N. draft resolution to dispatch a French-led emergency military force to the war-ravaged northeastern Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The U.N. Security Council is expected to approve the measure as early as Friday.

The United States and France clashed in the Security Council in March over the use of force in Iraq. But the two permanent council members are in common cause over the need for action to halt the violence in the northeastern Congo, where hundreds of people have been killed in recent weeks in fighting between rival militias.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Bush administration supports the dispatch of an emergency force to provide security in the area until a reinforced U.N. presence can be established, and welcomes France's decision to head up the military operation.

"We think the rapid deployment of such a force is critical to stabilizing the region, and in so doing allowing the on-going political process to move forward," he said.

Mr. Boucher also welcomed regional support for the deployment by Uganda and Rwanda. He said the United States would consider requests for logistical and financial help for the emergency force but said no U.S. personnel would take part on the ground.