Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal had each offered at least one battalion, and Denmark two warships, one official, asking not to be named, said on Thursday. The German ambassador said that Berlin would also make a contribution.

 

"I think we are almost there," Thomas Matussek, Germany's UN ambassador, told reporters during talks to thrash out the rules of engagement and composition of the 15,000-strong force.

 

"In a very encouraging way, there were many of us, many countries, [willing] to contribute to this armed force ... I was very encouraged by the general spirit of active contributions shown by so many countries," he said.

 

On Thursday, France said it would send 200 soldiers to reinforce the UN mission in Lebanon.

 

The German ambassador said his country's commitment would involve a naval and land element, but declined to give further details.

 

"I was in a position to offer a rather substantive maritime component which ... could patrol and secure the whole of the Lebanese coast," he said.

  

"We could also offer a rather substantial border patrol along the Syrian border."

 

According to the unnamed diplomat, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Morocco and Belgium had all said they wanted to study the proposals for the force further before offering any firm pledges.

 

The force is due to deploy in southern Lebanon along with  Lebanese forces to police a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel, as agreed under the terms of a UN resolution adopted last week.