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Nov 16, 2:43 PM EST

UN seeks troops for C. African Republic before pope visit

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Britain says U.N. Security Council members support a request to send hundreds more peacekeepers to Central African Republic as a visit by Pope Francis, and elections, are both set for the coming weeks.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has asked the council to approve the immediate transfer of about 300 peacekeepers from the Ivory Coast mission for an eight-week period.

Deadly violence in Central African Republic has recently surged, and the pope's planned visit late this month is raising alarm.

Britain currently holds the council presidency. Deputy Ambassador Peter Wilson says council members support the additional peacekeepers and will make a formal statement "in the coming days."

The Vatican secretary of state has hinted that Pope Francis' security team will decide at the last minute whether to change his Africa itinerary.

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