The creation of an expanded United Nations peace keeping force for Lebanon continues to prove problematic – with European contributors notably reluctant to sign up to what many fear might prove a thankless mission.
Italy has indicated it mght deploy 3000 soldiers, but has not yet made a firm commitment.
France has said it’s offer of just two hundred extra soliders could be added to, and US President George Bush put an optimistic gloss on the situation:
“France has said they’d send some troops. We hope they send more. And there’s been different signals coming out of France. Yesterday they had a statement. Today they had a statement. We’re working with France. France is a friend. France is an ally. France has got a great stake in the future of Lebanon. President Chirac has made it very clear that he believes that democracy in Lebanon is very important.”
But aside from France, only Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal have made firm commitments to provide troops – and Israel has said that contributions from Indonesia and Malaysia would be unwelcome as these countries don’t recognise Israel.
A UN planning group has said a force of 15 000 people is needed to police the Israeli-Lebanese border and that it needs to be in position by the end of October.