The makeup and mechanism of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon are up for discussion among EU foreign ministers in Brussels today. EuroNews asked the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi about the possibility of a dual French-Italian command of UNIFIL. “We are not holding a beauty contest,” he said. “We must contribute to peace. If we are handed leadership responsibilities, that will be fine. Otherwise, we will still do our part for peace.”
After receiving assurances about the force’s mandate, France has increased its contribution. Earlier it said it would only send an extra 200 soldiers. “Two extra battalions will be on the ground,” said the French President, Jacques Chirac, “increasing our involvement in UNIFIL. Two thousand French soldiers will be wearing blue helmets in Lebanon.”
Italy has also said it is ready to supply between two and three thousand troops, as long as Israel does not violate the UN brokered ceasefire with Hizbollah.