By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations is seeking an exemption from a U.N. Security Council arms embargo on Ivory Coast so it can ship weapons and military equipment across the East African nation to its peacekeeping mission in landlocked Mali, a spokesman said on Thursday.
The statement came after U.N. sanctions monitors called for the world body to stop allowing arms to be shipped to the U.N. mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, through Ivory Coast after they said a load of military hardware sent by China violated U.N. restrictions.
"We are engaged with the secretariat of the sanctions committee to seek a standing waiver for the transfer through Ivory Coast of arms and equipment under embargo that's intended solely for use by the U.N. mission," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
The monitors' confidential report, presented to the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee last Friday, said the shipment of weapons, ammunition and hardware sent by china that passed through Ivory Coast in November lacked proper permission. They also said China had understated its actual size.
The United Nations did not comment specifically on those allegations, but said all equipment was accounted for.
"The U.N. mission in Mali confirms that there has been no missing shipment of weapons, equipment and goods destined to the Chinese contingent serving with the mission," Dujarric said.
China denied misstating the shipment's size and said all the equipment was correctly received by its contingent, rejecting the monitors' criticism they had been unable to trace it.
Chinese troops form part of a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission being deployed to help stabilize Mali after a French-led military intervention last year drove off Islamist fighters who had seized the country's desert north.
Ivory Coast's main port of Abidjan has been a primary transit point for cargo shipped to the Mali mission. Ivory Coast has been under an arms embargo since 2004.
(Editing by Peter Galloway)