The UN has begun talks with Democratic Republic of Congo on withdrawing its peacekeeping mission – the biggest UN operation in the world.
UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said his officials would take a month to assess how the pullout of 20,500 personnel could be carried out.
The current mandate of the mission, known as Monuc, expires in May.
UN troops have a mixed record in DR Congo, with accusations of sex abuse, gold smuggling and running from rebels.
The peacekeepers were first sent to the country in 1999 in a bid to calm a raging conflict dubbed “Africa’s first world war”.
The conflict drew in six other countries and left an estimated four million people dead.
The fighting officially ended in 2003, but parts of the east of the country remain extremely volatile.
News Agency reporter says no details have been given on a timeline for withdrawal, but the Congolese authorities have asked for it to be carried out in one year.
Our correspondent says it is quite clear that President Joseph Kabila does not want to have a UN force in his country when a presidential election is held in late 2011.
SOURCED FROM BBC