Italy spearheads international force in Lebanon

Monday, August 21, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Italy will probably be the one to head the augmented international force to be deployed in southern Lebanon instead of France who decided to scale down the number of troops they are sending to only 400.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke on the matter with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Olmert said that Israel considers the participation of Italian troops in the international force necessary for the implementation of UN Resolution 1701 and for peace and stability in the Middle East.

Olmert also said that it is important that the force arrives as soon as possible and that Italy take charge of the effort and will also send its forces to oversee the border between Syria and Lebanon.

PM Prodi said that he will be sending a significant military force so it could carry out its mission and he intends to bring it to a vote in the Italian Parliament as soon as possible.

The two prime ministers agreed to expedite the effort and to be in touch in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said during the Cabinet meeting that Israel will take part in the establishment of the international force. Israel is considering whether to allow countries who do not have diplomatic relations with Israel to take part in the force. These countries include Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

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