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Aug. 14, 2006 11:14 Updated Aug. 14, 2006 11:25
Germany undecided on Mideast involvement
By ASSOCIATED PRESSBERLIN
Germany's interior minister left open Monday whether the country will contribute troops to an international force in Lebanon, but said Berlin will contribute to "efforts to bring stability to the region."
German officials, mindful of the Nazi-era past and concerned that the military already is stretched, have been cautious about deploying troops near Israel's borders.
Some leading politicians have argued that Berlin should help with sea patrols or security on Lebanon's border with Syria, or stay out of an international force altogether.
"We will in any case participate in efforts to bring stability to the region," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, said on ZDF television.
"Whether that is with soldiers, whether we will help with border security or the like, we will have to see," he added. "But if the Europeans can make a contribution, they must make it; and if the Europeans make a contribution, Germany belongs to Europe."
Schaeuble said there had been discussions on whether Germany could help with border security, but did not elaborate.
With German soldiers already serving in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Congo, there is little enthusiasm among the country's leaders for another military deployment.
With history in mind, they also are keen to avoid any situation in which German soldiers come into conflict with Israeli soldiers - although Israel's prime minister has said he would favor German participation in a force in southern Lebanon.
Deploying German troops would require parliamentary approval.
Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have argued that Germany cannot consider a contribution until a UN mandate is in place.