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UN: Security Council To Vote On Afghan Peace Force

United Nations, 20 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Security Council is expected to vote on a plan for a peacekeeping force in Afghanistan as early as today. The council's five permanent members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China -- agreed to the draft resolution yesterday.

The plan would give a British-led multinational force of between 3,000 and 5,000 international troops a six-month mandate, subject to renewal.

Yesterday, Britain committed around 1,500 troops to the force. Up to 200 British troops are expected to be in place by 22 December, when the new Afghan government takes office. France and Italy want to send troops by the end of the year.

In the Afghan capital Kabul, Defense Ministry officials have ordered all armed fighters -- with the exception of specially deployed police and soldiers -- off the streets. Officials say the order is part of increased security measures ahead of the inauguration on 22 December.

Pakistani forces say they have captured hundreds of Al-Qaeda operatives and Taliban troops fleeing into the country from Afghanistan. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the captives may provide valuable information about the terrorist network and the whereabouts of suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.