The UN Security Council said Thursday the world body should consider sending a peacekeeping force in strife-torn Central African Republic, while France said it could reinforce its military presence there.
The 15-member council voted unanimously for a resolution urging UN leader Ban Ki-moon to prepare a report in 30 days on helping a small African force in the country, where rebels overthrew the president in March.
It said the options should include transforming the African Union operation into a full UN peacekeeping force.
The resolution was adopted amid reports that new clashes between the rebels and local self-defense groups has left nearly 50 dead.
France already has about 450 troops in Central African Republic, whose transitional government has lost control of the country.
"The hypothesis of a limited reinforcement is on the table," France's UN Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters.
French troops are currently concentrated in the capital Bangui, where they control the airport. French officials have hinted the force could be increased to 700 troops.
The UN could decide to set up a special fund for the African force and help with its planning, or it could decide on a full peacekeeping operation with thousands of extra troops sent in.
Central African Republic's UN Ambassador Charles-Armel Doubane thanked each council member for the vote and said the strife in his country had become Africa's "forgotten" conflict.