German naval forces 'won't disarm Hezbollah'

29th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

29 August 2006, BERLIN - German Navy vessels, expected to be stationed off Lebanon as part of a beefed up United Nations force, will not be used to disarm Hezbollah militants, the German deputy chancellor said Tuesday.

29 August 2006

BERLIN - German Navy vessels, expected to be stationed off Lebanon as part of a beefed up United Nations force, will not be used to disarm Hezbollah militants, the German deputy chancellor said Tuesday.

"Their mission is not to disarm Hezbollah. They are supposed to restrict arms smuggling," said Deputy Chancellor Franz Muentefering at a news briefing with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel said German forces would have "a very robust mandate" which could be used for self-defence.

Berlin has refused to send any ground troops for the planned 15,000-member United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping operation in southern Lebanon.

"The German government will never send soldiers into a situation where the risks are fully unclear," said Merkel.

No final decision has been made on German naval units for UNIFIL but media reports suggest up to 1,200 soldiers could be involved.

The strengthened UNIFIL force is part of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which earlier this month ended Israel's military strikes on Hezbollah and Lebanese targets as well as Hezbollah missile attacks on Israel.

DPA

Subject: German news

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