French FM Vedrine to Middle East for Lebanon Talks
French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine will travel to Israel, Lebanon and Syria over the weekend for talks on the future of south Lebanon, the foreign ministry said Friday.
"It will be an occasion to examine the situation there, just after the withdrawal of Israeli forces," French foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret said of Vedrine's visit, set for Sunday and Monday.
The role of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will be at the center of discussions, with France re-iterating that it will contribute more troops only if Lebanon deploys its own army down to the Israeli border.
"Our conditions are logical and unmistakable," Vedrine said in the latest edition of the Nouvel Observateur political weekly.
"Whatever our historical links with Lebanon and our permanent desire for peace in the Middle East, neither the President nor the Prime Minister are ready to send French troops without a clear mission into a situation which could become uncontrollable.
"We call on the various protagonists to define their intentions," the French foreign minister said.
France currently has nearly 250 soldiers serving with the UN force -- PARIS (AFP)
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