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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence prepares to speak during a meeting of the Security Council to discuss peacekeeping operations during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson


By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's policy of "America First does not mean America alone," Vice President Mike Pence told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday as he urged reform to make peacekeeping missions more efficient, effective, accountable and credible.

The 15-member council discussed how to improve peacekeeping operations during the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. There are currently 15 U.N. peacekeeping missions, costing more than $7.3 billion (£5.41 billion) for the next year.

Since January, Trump's U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has led a push to cut costs and is reviewing the mandate of each operation as annual mandates come up for renewal by the Security Council. Trump wants to cap the U.S. share of the peacekeeping bill at 25 percent, down from 28.5 percent, a level he says is "unfair."

The United States is a veto-wielding member of the council, along with Britain, France, Russia and China.

"Peacekeeping missions must support a political solution; have the consent of the host country; its mandates must be realistic and achievable; every mission must have an exit strategy; and the United Nations peacekeeping missions must adjust to progress and failure," Pence said.

"In short, when a mission succeeds, we should not prolong it. When a mission underperforms, we should restructure it. And when a mission consistently fails to fulfil the mandates of this council, we should end it," he said.

The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Wednesday pushing for improved accountability, transparency and effectiveness and to make peacekeepers more flexible. Critics worry that harsh cuts could harm operations in volatile African states.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pledged to make U.N. peacekeeping more efficient but has noted that the current budget to fund it is less than one half of 1 percent of global military spending.

"Across the years and across the globe, fifty-five peacekeeping operations have successfully completed their mandate," Guterres told the council on Wednesday. "Many political missions have done the same."

He appealed for the Security Council to ensure mandates for missions were clear and that operations were well equipped.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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