U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti want to reduce troops

MONTEVIDEO, (Reuters) – The head of the United  Nations mission in Haiti said yesterday he will ask the U.N.  Security Council next week to allow a gradual reduction in  peacekeeping forces in the Caribbean country.

The proposal was backed by South American defense and  foreign ministers meeting in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo,  whose countries have contributed the bulk of the peacekeepers.

The seven-year-old mission was expanded by 2,000 troops to  nearly 12,300 after a crippling earthquake struck Haiti early  last year, but officials said conditions have since improved.
“The proposal is under way, and we agree that the increase  … due to the earthquake can now be reduced. The soldiers have  practically completed their tasks,” said Chilean national  Mariano Fernandez, who heads the so-called MINUSTAH mission.

“The objective is to achieve political stability and  strengthen the country’s institutions … if that goes well,  the program can reduce (its troops),” Fernandez said, adding  the proposal will be put to the Security Council on Sept. 16.

Brazil’s defense minister said earlier this week his  country hoped to withdraw some of its soldiers from Haiti.  Brazil has the largest contingent in the mission at 2,166  troops.

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