President Bush Vows to End Liberia's War
By: J. Moses Gray
President George Bush says the United States will be "active" in Liberia though he is yet to determine whether that would mean sending American troops to the country.
Speaking in Nigeria during the last leg of his five nation African tour over the weekend, President Bush said he was to decide in the coming week whether to send troops to Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves in the 19th century.
Asked in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, if his decision to send US troops would come this week, perhaps when he meets U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan at the White House on today, Bush replied: "I'm not sure."
“I told the president [Obasanjo] we’ll be active," Bush said before talks with his counterpart, the Nigerian leader. "The definition of that will be when we understand all the parameters. We're still in the process of assessing," he added.
The United States President who was on an 18_hour visit to Nigeria, has been pressing for President Charles Taylor to step down to end violence in the Liberia.
However, President Taylor has been calling for international peace-keepers to be in place to avert chaos before he takes up an offer of asylum from President Obasanjo.
On the hand, the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy(LURD) said it will engage any peacekeeping forces that come into the country while President Taylor is still in the country.
Nigerian President Obasanjo is among a corps of African leaders who have been pressing the United States to contribute troops to a mainly African peacekeeping force for Liberia to help end 14 years of conflict.
President Bush said he will join efforts to enforce a fragile ceasefire to end Liberia's civil war, but is waiting on reports from U.S. military experts in the West African state.
President Bush said the United States needs to clarify three major issues first. He named as the departure of Taylor, conditions for maintaining a ceasefire and humanitarian needs. He said they would want to know what it means to keep the ceasefire.
"We need to know exactly what is necessary to achieve our objectives," President Bush said.
United States Secretary of State Colin Powell who accompanied President Bush, had earlier said a decision would be made within the next few days.