Bangladesh, Namibia Pledge Troops for Liberia

Bangladesh (search) and Namibia (search) agreed to contribute more than 5,000 troops for a United Nations peacekeeping force for Liberia, U.N. officials and diplomats said Friday.

The U.N. force will replace a West African force that has already begun deploying to Liberia (search).

The U.N. Security Council (search) ordered the U.N. force to replace the multinational contingent by Oct. 1, but the proposal given to potential troop-contributing nations at a closed-door meeting Thursday calls for U.N. peacekeepers to start deploying on Nov. 1.

Bangladesh's U.N. Ambassador Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury said Friday his government was prepared "to send one full strength brigade, with headquarters and all ancillary support services — that would be roughly 3,500 troops."

The U.N. officials had said earlier that Bangladesh offered two brigades with 4,800 troops.

Namibia offered two fully equipped battalions with a total of about 1,600 troops, U.N. officials and diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Bangladesh will also consider sending an 800-strong engineering battalion, since the United Nations indicated it needs a strong engineering component, said Chowdhury.

Jacques Paul Klein, the new U.N. special envoy to Liberia, appealed to diplomats from dozens of countries on Thursday to join the U.N. mission. He called for a robust force of between 12,000 and 15,000 troops to help stabilize the country, demobilize combatants and provide security so democratic elections can be held for a new government.

India, Pakistan, Ireland and South Africa may also provide troops for the U.N. force, they said.

The U.N. Security Council has authorized a two-month deployment for the multinational force to help end fighting between forces loyal to President Charles Taylor and rebels trying to oust him — and to provide security once Taylor leaves.

Chowdhury said developing countries like Bangladesh must promote development in Africa.

"To put development back on track as an international goal, ethnic conflicts must cease," he said.