The UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will call on the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to end the air and sea blockade of Lebanon. On his arrival in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Annan met family members of three kidnapped Israeli soldiers, two of whom are being held by Hizbollah. The third was seized by Palestinian militants. The wife of one of the abducted soldiers expressed her concerns: “We are very worried because till today none of the three families have had any sign of life from Udi, Gilad and Endad, and I know that the UN, I hope that the UN will take responsibility.”
Annan’s visit also includes discussion on the deployment of UN peacekeepers which he believes should allow Israeli forces to pull out. “My hopes are that with the French deployment moving forward and the Italians beginning on Friday that we should be able to double relatively quickly the 2,500 men we have on the ground and move up to 5,000 so that the Israelis can withdraw, Israeli troops can come back home,” he said.
Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz said Israel would pull out thousands of troops once a “reasonable” number of UN soldiers has been deployed. He has not, however, said what that number would be.