France plans to ask for more international troops to be sent to Ivory Coast

France plans to ask for additional foreign troops to be sent to Ivory Coast following an agreement by warring factions there to end hostilities and start disarming, the French defense minister said in an interview published Wednesday.

"When the return to barracks and disarmament begins, we will once again be entering an extremely sensitive phase. We will again appeal for a strengthening of international troops," Michele Alliot-Marie told Le Figaro.

But she also acknowledged that previous appeals did not work. France has 4,000 troops in the West African nation, which has been split between the rebel-held north and loyalist south since a failed coup attempt in 2002.

"I sometimes have the impression that the international community tells itself that the French, if they are there, are capable of coping with all situations. And sending additional reinforcements is expensive for the United Nations," she said.

The agreement last week committed warring factions to immediately disarm and dismantle militia fighters throughout the country.

Alliot-Marie said there could be grave consequences for Africa if it fails.

"Extremists on both sides would probably take up arms again. If the partition of Ivory Coast was confirmed, violence would without doubt spread to neighboring countries and provoke a destabilization of West Africa," she said. "By capillary action, all of Africa, which is very fragile at the moment, would be overtaken by the questioning of frontiers and interethnic clashes."

Associated Press

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