The European Union (EU) has agreed to commit more than 7000 troops to
South Lebanon, as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission
between Israel and Lebanon. UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has
called the EU commitment “the back bone of the force” in the UN backed
truce, which calls for the deployment 15 000 UN troops joining 15 000
Lebanese troops in the South of Lebanon.
The plan, confirmed at a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels, is to have 4000 troops in Lebanon by next week, and to have others follow by November. "We should deploy, I hope, within the next few days, not the next few weeks," stated Annan.
Annan made it clear that the UN force would not attempt to disarm Hezbollah, but would keep it in the hands of the Lebanese government. He also stated that the force would not police the Syria-Lebanon border unless the Lebanese government asked them to do so.
France and Italy, who will be leading the mission, have agreed to send 5000 troops in total. Spain has agreed to up to 1200, Poland will contribute 500, Belgium has offered 400, and Finland, 250.
On top of the 7000 troops, the UN also agreed to send a further 2000 specialist forces, mainly providing naval and air support, which Britain, Germany, Greece and Denmark offered to contribute to.
The Israeli government is opposed to troop pledges by predominately Muslim countries, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, claiming that since they have no diplomatic ties with Israel, troops would be biased.