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Enhanced UN Peacekeeping Force In Lebanon

Enhanced UN Peacekeeping Force In Lebanon Reaches Third Of Its Mandated Size

New York, Sep 20 2006 2:00PM

The enhanced UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has reached approximately 5,000 troops with the arrival of contingents from France, Italy and Spain, concluding the first phase of a deployment of up to 15,000 blue helmets to oversee the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah.

“I am fully satisfied with the first phase of the deployment,” UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini said. “Notwithstanding some of the obstacles we had to deal with, including of a logistical nature, UNIFIL now is at 5,000 strength.

“I look forward to inspecting all the new contingents as soon as they are ready to deal with the tasks ahead. This, of course, is dependent on acquiring appropriate premises and land for the newly arrived troops which has not been fully resolved yet,” he added.

Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the fighting in August mandated strengthening the original UNIFIL that has been deployed in southern Lebanon since 1978 following earlier fighting.

In his latest report on the resolution Secretary-General Kofi Annan said there was a “general understanding” that Israeli troops would completely withdraw once the UN Force reaches 5,000 troops and the Lebanese army is ready to deploy at the full strength of 15,000 troops in southern Lebanon.

At a trilateral meeting yesterday between Maj.-Gen. Pellegrini and senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), they discussed Israeli withdrawals and Lebanese troop deployment. “The meeting was positive; we are making progress. IDF withdrawals and Lebanese deployments are on track,” the general said afterwards.

Ends

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