U.N. to establish ”exclusion zone” in south Lebanon as Chirac say no need for 15000 troops
The French foreign minister on Friday said the U.N. will establish an "exclusion zone" in south Lebanon where it will disarm unauthorized armed men. Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the European Union will provide "more than half" of the peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon. Annan said the U.N. force will be "strong, credible and robust."
Annan had added he believed he would be able to persuade European countries to supply enough soldiers for the 15,000 peacekeeping forces for southern Lebanon. "I came with the hope that I will leave Brussels with a large number of soldiers," Annan told reporters before an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers got under way.
Earlier, French President Jacques Chirac said he thinks that 15,000 troops would not be needed, citing the small area of the territory to be patrolled. "My feeling is that the figure that was put forward at the beginning of discussions - 15,000 for a reinforced UNIFIL - was a figure that was quite excessive," he said, according to the AP.
Italy, has already pledged to provide up to 3,000 soldiers. Besides France, other nations considering contributions include Spain, Denmark, Germany, and Greece.
On Friday, the Belgian government said it would contribute troops.