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UNITED NATIONS, Dec 23 (Reuters) - U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon will likely ask the U.N. Security Council on Monday for a two-third increase in the number of peacekeepers in South Sudan in a bid to better protect civilians from worsening violence, said council diplomats.
The 15-member council is expected to adopt a resolution on Tuesday approving about 5,000 more troops and 280 more police for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as UNMISS, said the diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.
There are currently 6,800 peacekeeping troops and nearly 700 police in South Sudan. The Security Council is due to meet later on Monday to discuss the situation in South Sudan.
"I will be sending a letter to the Security Council containing my recommendations for boosting the protection capacity of UNMISS (the U.N. mission) with additional troops, police and logistical assets," Ban told reporters.
He said the United Nations was already approaching countries to ask them to contribute troops and assets.
"We are also looking at other peacekeeping missions, while taking care not to reduce their capacity to respond to threats where they operate," Ban said.
Former Vice President Riek Machar, leader of a rebellion against South Sudan's government, told Reuters on Monday he was ready for dialogue to end the conflict but said President Salva Kiir must first release his detained political allies.
Machar said he had spoken on Monday to Ethiopia's foreign minister, leader of a team of African mediators trying to end more than a week of fighting that has killed hundreds of people and driven thousands from their homes.
Ban said that some 45,000 civilians were seeking protection at U.N. bases in South Sudan.
"UNMISS is protecting civilians at its bases, supporting humanitarian deliveries, monitoring the human rights situation and investigating reports of abuses," he said. "The world is watching all sides in South Sudan. Attacks on civilians and the U.N. peacekeepers deployed to protect them must cease." (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)