U.S., Britain May Delay Sanctions
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The United States and Britain, which had pressed to quickly punish Liberia for supporting Sierra Leone rebels, said they are now willing to delay the start of sanctions to ensure regional support.
West African foreign ministers personally appealed to the Security Council on Monday to postpone a proposed diamond and arms embargo on Liberia for two months. They argued that the delay would give Liberian President Charles Taylor more time to break ties with the rebels and stop the alleged sales of guns for diamonds that have fueled Sierra Leone’s war.
The United States and Britain initially balked at the request, saying Taylor had had enough warnings.
But on Thursday, U.S. and British officials said they would be willing to consider a compromise proposal delaying some of the measures for two months _ aware that new sanctions on Liberia would be nearly impossible to enforce without African support.
``What we’re trying to do is find out a way that’s most supportive of the countries in the region who are trying on their own to get President Taylor to do the right things,″ Acting U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham said.
Liberia is already under a U.N. weapons embargo stemming from its 1989-96 civil war. The proposed U.S.-British resolution calls for an expanded arms embargo, a ban on Liberian diamond and timber exports, a takeoff and landing ban on Liberian-registered aircraft, and a travel ban on senior Liberian government and military officials.
Taylor denies dealing with the rebels but has promised to expel all rebels from Liberia and has grounded all Liberian aircraft. He also requested U.N. monitoring of Liberian airports and diamond exports.