Peacekeepers expected to be in Lebanon next week, says Finland
Visiting Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said here Thursday that the first fortified UN peacekeepers in Lebanon were expected to be deployed in a week's time.
"Within a week if possible," said Tuomioja, whose country holds currently the rotating presidency of the European Union, when asked at what time the first unit of the additional troops would arrive in Lebanon to support the 2,000 troops that have already there.
But he said the full force could not be deployed until two or more months later.
Tuomioja said he expected the concrete numbers of EU troops to be announced at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels Friday.
"Tomorrow's meeting will be very important for the credibility of the EU," he noted, saying that the bloc had a central role in the Lebanon mission.
The United States, Britain and Germany will not send any ground troops to Lebanon, while Italy will send 2,000 to 3,000 troops there and would assume the leading role in the mission.
Spain has offered 700-800 troops and France 200.
Under the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 passed on Aug. 11, the number of peacekeepers in southern Lebanon will be raised to 15,000 to ensure a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon Hezbollah.