Syria’s president has reportedly agreed to the presence of European peacekeepers along the border between his country and Lebanon. News of the apparent accord comes from the Italian Prime Minister, who has been in touch by phone over the past few days with the Bashir al-Assad.
Romano Prodi said: “It’s an extraordinary example of cooperation. It will be a mission without weapons and uniforms.” He went on to say this would help cut the flow of weapons to the south of Lebanon, and help create a safer environment for the UNIFIL mission.
The accord, yet to be confirmed by Assad, would be a big turnaround by Damascus after earlier saying the deployment of UN forces along the border would be a hostile act. And yesterday, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Syria had promised to deploy a battalion to help patrol its border with Lebanon. Rome is contributing the largest number of troops to the UN force policing the truce between Israel and Hizbollah. The Italian army is expected to take over command of the peacekeepers from France sometime next year.
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