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U.S. Aid to Create African Peace Force OKd by Clinton


WASHINGTON — President Clinton has approved an ambitious plan to organize, train, equip and help deploy an all-African military force of 10,000 troops to intervene in that continent's recurrent crises, according to senior administration officials.

The African Crisis Response Force would be sent to countries where insurrection, civil war or campaigns of genocide threatened mass civilian casualties. The force would not intervene in the fighting but would establish safe areas where civilians could receive humanitarian assistance.

It would cost about $25 million to set up the force next year and about $40 million if the troops had to be deployed, officials estimated. The United States is prepared to pick up half the cost, officials said, and is counting on European allies to come up with the rest, in cash or in equipment and training.

The United States is also prepared to airlift the troops for a deployment, officials said.

The force will be created only if the United States can get support from African and European countries.

Senior officials said it will be another week or two before they receive definitive responses but that some African countries have expressed strong interest.

The intervention plan was developed in the last few months as it became clear that U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali would not succeed in his quest to organize a standby force for the Central African country of Burundi under U.N. auspices, officials here said.

Driving the planning was administration fear that a rising tide of violence in Burundi could erupt into slaughter on a scale similar to that in neighboring Rwanda two years ago with no international plan to stave off mass civilian casualties.

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