Belgium to send mine sweepers to Lebanon

24th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 August 2006, BRUSSELS — Belgium might contribute mine sweepers to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said on Thursday.

24 August 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgium might contribute mine sweepers to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said on Thursday.

"It is one of the activities that we are seriously considering," De Gucht said during a flight from Tel Aviv to Beirut.

The Liberal VLD minister had met with Israeli Defence Minister, Amir Peretz, on Thursday morning to discuss the preparations for the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon.

De Gucht asked the Israeli minister to supply a map of the mines that were placed in the area.

"This is an important element in guaranteeing the safety of the population and the soldiers given the fact that various people were killed in recent days in mine explosions," he said.

De Gucht also discussed the disarming of Hezbollah with Peretz, news agency Belga reported.

"The Israelis know that an active disarmament is not realistic and want to especially avoid Hezbollah being re-armed, which means troops will be stationed along the border with Syria, a fact that Damascus doesn't like."

While in Beirut, De Gucht will meet with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and other Lebanese leaders.

Earlier, he had dinner with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.

That meeting was not initially on the agenda, but was quickly organised by the Belgian ambassador after De Gucht was forced to postpone his meeting with Peretz on Wednesday due to flight delays.

De Gucht also met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during a stopover in Paris on Wednesday.

He is expected back in Brussels on Thursday night where he will attend a Cabinet meeting focused on Belgium's possible involvement in the Unifil peacekeeping force.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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