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France Says Its Troops to Arrive In Lebanon in Three Weeks

  • VOA News

France says that all of its two thousand troops destined for Lebanon will be in that country within three weeks.

French Defense Minister Michele Aliot-Marie also told the Wall Street Journal that France has received an important clarification on how much force troops can use in their peacekeeping mission.

France will command the international force until February 2007. Then Italy will take over.

In other news, media reports quote a German official as saying that sailors from German vessels must be able to board and search suspicious ships approaching Lebanon's coast.

Germany has offered naval support for the arms embargo stipulated by the the U.N. ceasefire resolution.

A Lebanese official says his country will urge Secretary-General Kofi Annan to persuade Israel to lift its air and sea blockade.

Mr. Annan arrives in Beirut on Monday.

Israel says it will only lift the blockade once international troops are deployed along Lebanon's borders with Syria.

But Syria says stationing international troops along its border would be a hostile act.

European nations have pledged nearly seven thousand troops for the expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

In other news, Hezbollah says it was surprised by Israel's response to its capture of two Israeli soldiers in July

Naim Qassem, the group's deputy leader, said the group expected Israel to bomb Lebanon for a few days only.

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