French presidential candidate Charles Pasqua ended a four-day trip to Lebanon on Friday with a call for more French investment and involvement in its former protectorate.
"I especially hope France invests more," Pasqua told reporters, adding that "all Lebanese officials without exception hope to see a more active France in the region and not let the Americans run things."
Pasqua, head of the right-wing RPF party (Rassemblement pour La France- Rally for France), arrived in the country Tuesday and held meetings with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Salim Hoss and Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, along with Muslim and Christian religious leaders.
Pasqua, who last visited Lebanon in 1996, is gearing up for France's 2002 presidential race.
Asked about France's decision not to send additional troops to the UN peacekeeping contingent in Lebanon, Pasqua said: "It is first up to the Lebanese government to re-deploy the Lebanese army in the south."
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asked last month for 1,000 more peacekeeping troops in Lebanon in the wake of Israel's withdrawal from the southern part of the country, which ended 22 years of occupation - BEIRUT (AFP)
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