The UN Security Council discusses the possibility of deploying a peacekeeping force to Mali. The body had opposed direct UN involvement in the conflict before France sent its troops to the country to help counter an offensive by Islamist rebels.
"There is increasing talk of moving straight to a U.N. peacekeeping operation," said a senior Western diplomat.
Another option would reportedly be sending in an African Union (AU) force mandated by the council with logistical and other support from the United Nations. Washington favors a UN mission rather than an AU force.
The diplomats, however, said that it is too early to deploy a peacekeeping force. "There's no peace to keep yet," said a diplomat. "We're still in the peace-enforcement phase."
UN-backed African forces joined the combat in Mali in mid-January.
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