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Meetings seek to boost UN cooperation with West Africans

Meetings seek to boost UN cooperation with West Africans

A meeting of representatives of the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Senegal this weekend will explore how best the two organizations and civil society can implement UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recommendations on stabilizing West Africa, the UN regional office said today.

Mr. Annan has recommended ways of eliminating cross-border problems in West Africa by ending the spread of small arms, the recruitment of child soldiers, the employment of mercenary soldiers and the erection of roadblocks.

"It is high time to deal with these scourges that have afflicted our region for many years," the Secretary-General's Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said in announcing the 30 April meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

"With the Security Council having now formally endorsed the practical and concrete recommendations made by the Secretary-General, all relevant actors - whether in the international community, ECOWAS, national governments and civil society organizations - have to work on credible action plans to implement those recommendations," he said.

"This is what we will be attempting to do next Friday," he added.

A Security Council Presidential Statement issued on 25 March said the Council would take a regional approach to West Africa as part of a wider strategy of conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict stabilization there.

On 29 April representatives of UN peacekeeping operations in Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone will meet to strengthen mission cooperation, including joint patrolling and monitoring and the possibility of "hot pursuit" cross-border operations, the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) said.