UN seeks international force for Lebanon

United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan has called for the formation of a strong international force to stabilise southern Lebanon.

    Kofi Annan and Jose Barrosso are calling for a large force in Lebanon

    Annan said he expected European nations to contribute troops to a large,

    more effective international force which would give the Lebanese government time to disarm Hezbollah. 

    "It is urgent that the international community acts to make a difference on the ground," he said as Israel pounded Lebanon for a seventh day in response to the kidnapping of two soldiers and rocket attacks on northern Israel.

    Speaking to reporters after meeting Jose Manuel, president of the European Commission, Annan said: "The proposed UN force would have to be more effective than the current UN interim force in Lebanon which has been unable to keep peace on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

    "The force will be larger, the way I see it, much larger than the 2,000-man force we have there. I would expect a force that will have a modified and different concept of operation and with different capabilities."

    Annan then called for all European countries to contribute to the force and also appealed to "countries from other regions" to help.

    Both Barroso and Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, said they supported the idea and that a number of EU countries were ready to send troops.

    Doubts cast

    The US and Israel say they are doubtful about the idea of such a force, with Washington questioning how much might it would take to restrain Hezbollah, while Israel officials said such a move was premature.

    John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has also raised a series of questions about how a new force would be more effective than Unifil, and asked who would disarm Hezbollah.

    Annan said he would put a package of proposals to the UN Security Council once a fact-finding mission, currently in Israel, reported back to him probably after returning to Lebanon and visiting Syria.

    In response to questions, he suggested it was the Lebanese government, not the proposed force, which would eventually have to disarm Hezbollah.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Trump's Middle East plan: Decoding a century of failed deals

    Trump's Middle East plan: Decoding a century of failed deals

    Al Jazeera read all 181 pages of 'the deal of the century', comparing its language with 100 years of failed agreements.

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.