EU foreign ministers commit increased numbers of troops to Lebanon
The EU foreign ministers, meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Brussels on Friday, 25 August, gave their full support to the swift implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1701 and committed to forming the backbone of the enlarged UNIFIL operation in Lebanon, providing half of the expanded force.
"I will leave it to the countries themselves to state their individual figures", said Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, representing the EU Presidency, at a press conference. In many of them, as in my country, Finland, the decision on troop deployment will require parliamentary approval, he added.
Secretary-General Annan proposed that France lead the UN peace force in Lebanon until early next year, after which Italy would take the lead.
Finland, the EU Presidency, had convened an extraordinary meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on Friday, 25 August, to boost EU Member States' contributions to UNIFIL.
In their conclusions, the ministers expressed their strong will to see all parties in the region play a constructive role in implementing the UN resolution to stabilise the region. They also reiterated the EU's determination to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Lebanon and underlined the urgency of lifting the air and sea blockade.