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Bush Remains Undecided on Sending Troops to Liberia


U.S. President George Bush has still not decided whether to send American troops to Liberia, where the country's defense minister says at least 600 civilians have been killed in the latest round of fighting in the capital, Monrovia.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan condemned the latest round of cease-fire violations and called on both sides to stop the fighting.

Calling the situation in Liberia "complicated" and "dynamic," Mr. McClellan said President Bush has not yet decided whether U.S. troops should take part in a planned West African peacekeeping force.

If they do, the president has said that operation will be limited in scope and will only begin once Liberian President Charles Taylor steps down.

West African military leaders are meeting in Senegal to discuss plans for sending 1,500 peacekeepers to Liberia as part of an initial deployment.

Liberians are increasingly frustrated at Washington's delay in committing troops to a peacekeeping force for a country founded by freed American slaves.

Asked about an editorial in The Washington Post saying the president might have prevented some of the recent violence with real leadership instead of what it called "dilatory rhetoric," Mr. McClellan said the administration is "actively engaged" in talks with the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States.