French forces arrive in Lebanon

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French forces arrive in Lebanon

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Some 50 French military engineers have landed on the Lebanese coast, as part of the 200-strong contingent that Paris has pledged for the new UN peacekeeping force.

France has been asked to send more soldiers but it argues the troops’ mandate is not clear enough.

UN envoy Terje Road-Larsen is in Beirut to discuss implementation of the UN resolution to expand the force that can supervise the truce, support the Lebanese army and monitor the Israeli withdrawal.

“We do see that there now are huge opportunities that might be great upside for the Lebanese people and the government of Lebanon in order to continue to solidify a good democracy and to solidify the authority of the state of Lebanon on all its territory,” he said.

Lebanon wants the Israeli air and sea blockade lifted.

Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh said: “We are fully cooperating with the United Nations organisation which is the legitimate international organisation, and others should also cooperate with this as we’re doing.”

The UN wants the force of up to 15,000 soldiers to include a balance of Muslim and Western states.

However many EU states are reticent – with more offers of support or intent than firm commitments.