Annan meets U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon before flying to Israel
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon on Tuesday, a day after Italy and Turkey decided to join the international force there.
Annan and his entourage left Beirut Tuesday morning in two helicopters, and landed in Naqoura, a town about two miles north of the Israeli border.
According to the AP, Annan was briefed Tuesday by French Maj. Gen. Alain Pellegrini, the UNIFIL commander, and other top officials, then reviewed an honor guard of U.N. troops. He ALSO laid a wreath at a monument for peacekeepers killed in Lebanon since UNIFIL deployed There in 1978.
Annan left Naqoura after about two and a half hours, flying along the Israel-Lebanon border by helicopter. He was expected to survey two other UNIFIL posts by air, and then touch down at Khiam, before flying south to Israel.
Meanwhile, an Italian task force of ships gathered off the coast of southern Italy on Tuesday, preparing to carry troops and aircraft to reinforce the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. A thousand Marines and engineer corps specialists were leaving as the vanguard of a 2,500-strong contingent being deployed by Italy.