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Security Council Extends Peacekeeping Mission in Congo

The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution extending a U.N. peacekeeping mission to the Congo for one month.

The Security Council renewed the Congo peacekeeping mission that was set to expire on Monday. The 30-day measure gives U.N. diplomats more time to decide their next move for the war-torn Congo.

The resolution deals with the U.N. Mission to the Congo, know as MONUC. It is separate from a new French-led multinational force recently deployed in Congo's northeastern Ituri region.

This month's President of the Security Council, Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov, said diplomats are considering a French proposal following recommendations by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to bolster MONUC.

"The draft proposal from France is based on the secretary-general's recommendations as he submitted them in his report," he pointed out. "Yesterday, the secretary-general addressed a special letter for us urging the council to consider those recommendations in good faith and as soon as possible because of the deteriorating situation."

MONUC now has about 5,000 lightly armed peacekeepers in the Congo. In a special report, Secretary-General Annan recommends boosting the military strength of the mission to 11,000 troops. He also proposes extending the mandate for one full year and suggests a possible arms embargo for the troubled Ituri and Kivu districts.

The French-led 1,400 multinational peacekeepers are authorized to use force to rein in the violence in the town of Bunia in eastern Ituri, the site of recent deadly inter-ethnic violence. But their mandate expires in September.

Since 1998, more than three million people, mostly civilians, have died in Congo's bloody civil war.