Israeli leaders welcomed Saturday the deployment of UN forces along the Lebanese border with Israel, expressing hope that this will contribute to maintaining peace in the region.
"Prime Minister Ehud Barak welcomed the deployment of UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) and expressed hope that it will lead to security and stability on the border," Barak defense spokesman David Zisso told AFP.
Four hundred UN troops moved into positions along Lebanon's border with Israel Saturday, completing in just a few hours a mission they were first tasked with 22 years ago and also paving the way for a Lebanese force to follow.
Zisso said Barak considers that the deployment of UNIFIL troops will "constitute an important phase towards ending the tragedy" of the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, "which cost the lives of a large number of Israeli soldiers".
He said Barak, who called on his fellow countrymen to spend their vacations in northern Israel, had also said the UNIFIL action will "give hope to Israeli towns for a calm life".
Earlier Saturday, Lebanese Interior Minister Michel Murr said a mixed army-police force would be ready by the following night to move in to the formerly occupied zone.
He said the force would consist of 500 gendarmes and 500 members of elite army units under the command of a general of the internal security forces.
An Israeli military officer who requested anonymity said deployment of the Lebanese forces would be positive for Israel -- KIRYAT SHMONA, Israel (AFP)
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