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Annan hopes to soon double UN troops in Lebanon

Written by: Staff

Jaerusalem, Aug 30: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said he hoped to double relatively quickly the number of UN troops on the ground in southern Lebanon and would also urge Israel to lift its air and sea blockade.

Annan, speaking after meeting Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz, said Israel had committed most of the violations of a fragile two-week-old truce that ended the war in Lebanon.

The United Nations chief arrived earlier in Israel after visiting Lebanon.

''My hopes are that with the French deployment moving forward and with 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,'' he said.

Peretz said Israel would pull troops from southern Lebanon once a ''reasonable'' number of UN soldiers had deployed but he did not give a figure.

Annan is visiting the region as part of his bid to secure full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701, which brought about the truce.


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