Berlin considers plans to join Lebanon mission

16th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

16 August 2006, BERLIN - Key members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition met Wednesday to consider plans for joining the expanded international peace mission in southern Lebanon. However, the meeting between Merkel and leaders of the parties making up her grand coalition government wound up without any details of the talks being made public. Merkel interrupted her holiday in the southern German state of Bavaria to join senior members of her government to consider proposals for dispatching

16 August 2006

BERLIN - Key members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition met Wednesday to consider plans for joining the expanded international peace mission in southern Lebanon.

However, the meeting between Merkel and leaders of the parties making up her grand coalition government wound up without any details of the talks being made public.

Merkel interrupted her holiday in the southern German state of Bavaria to join senior members of her government to consider proposals for dispatching a German military contingent to the Middle East.

But earlier in the day, a German government spokesman, Thomas Steg, said that the meeting would not reach a decision on a German involvement in the United Nations-led force and said that the meeting had been planned for some time.

In particular, Steg said that the government had not reached any decision on assigning members of the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) to the peacekeeping mission.

"The government will not be writing any blank cheques," said Steg adding that a final decision from Germany would not be possible until the UN spelt out details of its plans for the military force.

German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said Tuesday he wanted to submit to a UN meeting on Thursday concrete plans for Bundeswehr members joining the peacekeeping force.

The UN has called the meeting in New York so that countries willing to participate in the peacekeeping mission can set out their troop commitments.

Held in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth, the Wednesday talks between German government leaders came as a fragile ceasefire between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas remained in place after more than 30 days of fighting.

But in the light of the nation's past, German military involvement in other nations or regions is always a particularly sensitive issue in the country. In this case, it is more sensitive as it involves Israel.

However, Israel has welcomed Germany signing up to the UN force with many political analysts saying that Berlin would be unable to turn down a request from Israel to help shore up its border security.

Wednesday's discussions between German government leaders coincided with a visit to the Middle East by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Earlier on Wednesday, Steinmeier met his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal in Jeddah after abruptly cancelling his planned trip to Syria.

Following their talks, both Steinmeier and Saud insisted that a stable government was an essential part of any settlement in Lebanon expressed hope for peace in the region.

The meeting in Bayreuth also follows an intense debate in Germany about whether to join the peace mission, with signs of discord emerging in both the Merkel-led coalition and the opposition about sending troops to the Mideast.

While media reports suggest the leadership of Merkel's government has agreed in principle to sending troops to Lebanon, what role they will play in the UN-led mission is still not clear.

Government officials say that additional proposals for German involvement in the peace mission could emerge in the coming weeks.

Ahead of the coalition talks, the opposition Green Party called on the government to set out as soon as possible in parliament its plans for joining the peace mission.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article