Merkel rejects German troops as peacekeepers

24th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 July 2006, BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has apparently ruled out sending any troops to a possible United Nations peacekeeping force being discussed for Lebanon. "I don't envisage this at the moment," said Merkel in a ZDF TV interview Sunday. The German leader underlined, however, that there was a big difference between the present military conflict in Lebanon and the question of what would happen after a truce. "But that we would enter an acute conflict is something I really do not see that

24 July 2006

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has apparently ruled out sending any troops to a possible United Nations peacekeeping force being discussed for Lebanon.

"I don't envisage this at the moment," said Merkel in a ZDF TV interview Sunday.

The German leader underlined, however, that there was a big difference between the present military conflict in Lebanon and the question of what would happen after a truce.

"But that we would enter an acute conflict is something I really do not see that as a current imperative," Merkel said.

Kurt Beck, leader of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) which serve in Merkel's coalition government, was more open on the question of troops for Lebanon.

"I think it is right for Germany not to say 'no' in general to participation in a Middle East peacekeeping force," said Beck in a Bild am Sonntag newspaper interview.

German politicians have been debating calls by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to expand UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon as a means to prevent Hezbollah from firing rockets at Israel.

Most politicians in Berlin say German troops could only be deployed if Israel gave a green light. This is due to Germany's special sense of obligation to Israel given the legacy of the Holocaust.

Merkel said a big reason for the current crisis was the international community's failure to sufficiently aid Beirut in disarming militant Hezbollah fighters as envisaged under UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

"(The Lebanese) government developments were very positive but we did not manage to implement resolution 1559 - and this is something we must all take blame for," Merkel said.

Since fighting began on July 12 about 5,000 German nationals have been evacuated from Lebanon either by ship to Cyprus or in planes chartered by Berlin flying from Syria and Turkey, officials say.

A badly injured four-member German-Lebanese family was flown in a British military jet on Saturday to Cyprus.

More than 350 people have been killed in Lebanon by Israeli military strikes and over 1,000 have been injured. At least 500,000 people in Lebanon have fled the fighting.

In Israel, 36 people have been killed of which 17 are civilians who were mainly victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks.

DPA

Subject: German news

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