ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — A UN Security Council delegation Saturday said after talks here with Africa's top conflict prevention body that conditions have not yet been met for deploying UN peacekeepers in Somalia.
"The question of the UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia remains on the table," but UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "considers that the conditions required are not yet there," said British Ambassador John Sawers, who led the UN delegates' talks with their African Union peers.
He said the United Nations would for now support the 4,000-strong AU force AMISOM in Somalia, which he praised for "doing a commendable job", through logistical help.
"We'll strengthen this support and make sure the troops receive the support as soon as possible," he added.
The UN deputy secretary general Haile Menkerios told AFP on the sidelines of the talks in Addis Ababa that it has taken the UN time to organise the logistical support but it should be delivered soon.
"The logistical support and reinforcement should happen as soon as possible," he said.
"The UN has to keep its promises in order to reassure and encourage other African countries to contribute more troops," he added.
Burundi's ambassador Epiphanie Kabushemeye, who is chairing the monthly rotating presidency, said the AU was still working at beefing up AMISOM's strength to the required 8,000 troops.
"We hope that AMISOM quickly transforms into a UN peacekeeping force," she added.
The pan-African body currently has 4,000 troops from Burundi and Uganda in Somalia, but they have been unable to contain the violence that has raged in the capital Mogadishu since the deployment in March 2007.
In January, the Security Council passed a resolution stating its intent to send a peacekeeping mission to Somalia but delayed its decision on the deployment until June.
The UN's intervention in Somalia, dubbed "Operation Restore Hope" in the 1990s collapsed after the killing of 18 US soldiers.
Somali civilians have borne the brunt of the fighting between pro-government forces and Islamist insurgents. In recent days more than 100 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in fierce fighting that has rocked the capital.
Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has been holed up in the presidential compound protected by the AU forces.
Menkerios said the UN's priority is to shore up Ahmed's transitional government.
"Our priority is now to support the TFG (transitional government) and AMISOM and see what will happen." he said, adding: "There is a need for a more sustained support to the training and strengthening of the armed forces and the Somali institutions."
The Security Council on Friday slammed the fresh attempts by extremists to seize power by force and voiced concern about reported Eritrean arms supplies to the Islamists.
The hardliners who want Sharia law imposed across the Horn of Africa nation have admitted receiving support from foreign jihadists.
A country of seven million people, Somalia has had no effective central authority since former president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, setting off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.
Pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden by Somali groups have increased international concerns.
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