There is confusion over whether Syria has accepted European guards on its border with Lebanon to help prevent alleged arms shipments to Hizbollah. The official Syrian news agency says President Bashar al-Assad has not approved the move it describes as “hostile”.
Italy’s Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, earlier said that Syria had agreed in principle to allow unarmed European Union personnel to patrol its border. The EU guards would bolster and help train a 500-strong Syrian force that Assad has already committed.
Prodi added that the idea would be discussed by EU foreign ministers next week. Israel had called for an international presence on the Lebanon-Syria border to block arms smuggling as a condition for its complete withdrawal once 5,000 UN troops are in south Lebanon. The UN force could reach that number next week once the rest of a 700-strong French battalion and an expected Spanish contingent arrive.