French, German leaders to meet on Mideast

21st August 2006, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, Aug 21, 2006 (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac will meet in Paris on Friday for talks on efforts to put a lasting end to the conflict in Lebanon, her spokesman said Monday.

BERLIN, Aug 21, 2006 (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac will meet in Paris on Friday for talks on efforts to put a lasting end to the conflict in Lebanon, her spokesman said Monday.

Deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg told reporters that the foreign ministers of the two countries, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Philippe Douste-Blazy, would also take part.

The meeting comes as differences have surfaced over the expansion of the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon to monitor a shaky ceasefire between Israel and the Muslim Shiite militia Hezbollah.

France, the former colonial power in Lebanon, has begun to deploy a contingent of 200 troops, a much smaller number than expected by Israel and the international community.

Meanwhile Germany has said it would limit its commitment to the force to a naval unit and ruled out sending combat troops or police.

In a call to Merkel on Friday, Chirac called for "a necessary balance in the distribution of the contingents which must reflect the engagement of all the international community, including the European countries".

The European Union's Finnish presidency said Sunday that member states would meet this week in Brussels, probably on Wednesday, to discuss their contributions to a UN force in Lebanon.

The meeting between Merkel and Chirac will be part of regular informal consultations between the German and French governments held every six to eight weeks.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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