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U.N. REPRESENTATIVES ASSESS PEACEKEEPERS

The U.N. Security Council began its first visit to Haiti on Wednesday to evaluate the effort of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers to stabilize the impoverished country more than a year after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Despite gunfights in recent weeks between U.N. troops and politically aligned gangs, Brazilian U.N. Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg said the council members are pleased the year-old peacekeeping mission is making progress in reducing violence before fall elections.

"There is a profound conviction among the members that we are doing well, that we are doing right," said Sardenberg, the current council president who is leading the four-day visit.

Officials said they expected the Security Council would decide to extend the mission beyond June, when its mandate is due to expire, in order to maintain peacekeepers in Haiti through the elections set for October and November.

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