Israel has begun to lift its two-month blockade of Lebanon, imposed at the start of its offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas.
The Jewish state lifted its blockade of Lebanon's airports late Thursday. But in a surprise decision, Israeli officials decided to wait at least 48 hours before removing Israel's naval blockade on Lebanese ports.
An Israeli spokeswoman, Miri Eisen said the naval blockade will remain until an international force is deployed off the Lebanese coast.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said he expected Israel to lift the sea blockade today (Friday).
Also Thursday, Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Beirut to consult with the Lebanese government on patrolling the waters off Lebanon. Germany also is advising Lebanon on airport security.
Israel says it reserves the right to attack suspected Hezbollah arms convoys entering Lebanon from Syria.
Inside Israel, criticism has been mounting over the decision to end the blockade. Military officials and the families of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah are opposing the move. Families of the soldiers met Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Italian, French, British and Greek troops will patrol the Lebanese coastline. German forces are expected to take over from them in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Mr. Olmert met Thursday with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Mr. Olmert announced plans to visit Russia next month.