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U.S.-U.N. Clash on Rwanda Force Holds Up Vote

May 14, 1994|From Reuters

UNITED NATIONS — The United States and the United Nations were in sharp disagreement Friday on the shape and duties of a new 5,500-strong force to protect civilians in Rwanda's bloody civil war, estimated by aid workers to have killed between 200,000 and 500,000 people.

A vote on an urgent Security Council resolution, expected Friday, was delayed, and diplomats said it is doubtful that Washington will be ready to vote early next week.

Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and his advisers want any new force to take the airport in Kigali, which is surrounded by fighting, and then fan out from there. He argued against U.S. proposals to set up border zones to protect refugees and perhaps eventually send troops to the interior.

Meanwhile, sporadic artillery and mortar blasts rocked many parts of the capital city Friday with shells from government army positions landing near the hospital of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Kigali's hospital. About 3,000 sick and wounded are at the two facilities, aid workers in Kigali said.

The continuing violence comes a day after bodies of 88 students were found in the southern government-held town of Gikongoro near Butare--the epicenter of Rwanda's latest slaughter.

At the United Nations, a U.S. official told reporters that the United States is not opposed to a new force but needs to concentrate "on what was doable and not what someone sitting here might want to happen." He would not say how many troops the United States wants in the force.

To this end, mid-level officials from the Pentagon are scheduled to come to New York on Monday or Tuesday and address the council.

For the last month, the Security Council has been groping for a response to the civil war.

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