With France offering to add a mere 200 extra soldiers to its contingent in Lebanon, the United Nations peace keeping recruitment drive has a new urgency about it. Diplomats had been hoping France would send in several thousand soldiers, but US representative Alex Wolf said the operation’s credibility wasn’t in doubt.
“We’re hopeful that this force is going to be, as I mentioned, robust, and active, and serious in defence of its mandate. We think the French will be an element of that and we’ll wait and see what their ultimate contribution will be”
France wants assurances over the terms of the mission before it commits further, while Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out any direct military involvement from Germany. “We can’t imagine offering a participation of ground troops,” she said, “However, there are things where we can contribute if asked: logistical support, air transport, surveillance.”
The UN is hoping to put together a force of up to 13 000 peacekeepers, with Belgium, Finland, Norway, Spain, Turkey and Italy among the likely European contributors.