Top US General discusses peacekeeping at UN

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From left are, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Obama, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

From left are, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Obama, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Photo: Susan Walsh)

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff hosted a meeting Friday at the United Nations to follow up on countries' pledges of troops for peacekeeping operations.

Gen. Joseph Dunford's visit marked the first time a sitting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has ever spoken at the world body, U.S. officials said.

Deputy British chief of Defense Staff Gen. Gordon Messenger is a co-host of the meeting.

The meeting seeks to provide a status update on pledges made at President Barack Obama's 2015 Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping, where countries promised nearly 50,000 troops for U.N. missions. It also serves to preview a meeting of defense ministers in London in September.

Officials, who declined to be identified because they were speaking at a background ahead of the closed meeting, said Dunford's visit reflects the Obama administration's understanding that a robust U.N. peacekeeping force is in the United States best interest.

The pledges have already generated a surplus of troops the U.N. can draw upon for its far-flung peacekeeping operations and will allow the organization to be more selective about what troops and police it can accept, following a series of scandals involving sexual abuse and misconduct by peacekeepers.

Officials said that about two-thirds of countries that made pledges have followed through and that 12 units announced at the summit have already been deployed in peacekeeping missions with four more in the process of deploying. He said that part of the reason for the meeting was to make sure that the remaining one third follow through on their pledges.

According to a report seen by The Associated Press, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, Spain, Uganda and Vietnam were among the countries that have yet to fulfill their pledges.

Spain's Ambassador Roman Marchesi said his country's pledge had been contingent upon the U.N. choosing a Spanish force commander.

"Spain was misquoted," Marchesi said.

The United Nations currently maintains 16 peacekeeping missions around the globe.

-AP

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