Germany backs extending Lebanon mandate

23rd August 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 August 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The German cabinet Wednesday backed extending by one year the UN mandate of German naval units patrolling the Lebanese coast to halt the smuggling of arms to the militant Islamic Hezbollah. The cabinet planned to cut the maximum number of troops provided to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to 1,400 from 2,400, government spokesman Thomas Steg said following the routine cabinet meeting. Currently around 1,000 are deployed aboard eight ships. Steg said that the new leve

23 August 2007

Berlin (dpa) - The German cabinet Wednesday backed extending by one year the UN mandate of German naval units patrolling the Lebanese coast to halt the smuggling of arms to the militant Islamic Hezbollah.

The cabinet planned to cut the maximum number of troops provided to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to 1,400 from 2,400, government spokesman Thomas Steg said following the routine cabinet meeting.

Currently around 1,000 are deployed aboard eight ships. Steg said that the new level of 1,400 had not in the past been exceeded and the cut in the limit thus implied no reduction in the German commitment.

The German parliament is to be asked to extend the mandate to mid- September 2008 when it debates the issue in the middle of next month. Steg expressed confidence there would be a "broad majority" in favour.

Steg also said Germany intended to continue playing the "lead role" in the UNIFIL naval deployment until the end of February. A request was being made to the United Nations for another country to take on this role from March 1.

The naval deployment had been "effective and successful," Steg said, expressing confidence that no arms had got through. The German navy had checked 8,500 vessels and the Lebanese authorities had searched 35 vessels in port as part of the operation, he said.

The German military had assisted the Lebanese security forces by providing two patrol boats and refurbishing radar installations along the coast.

No German troops are serving in a ground role in Lebanon.

DPA

Subject: German news

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