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German govt to decide on Lebanon force tomorrow

Written by: Staff
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BERLIN, Sep 12 (Reuters) The German government will decide on sending a naval force to join UN peacekeepers in the Middle East at this week's regular cabinet meeting, a government spokesman said today.

Germany had put its planned naval deployment on hold earlier this month after Lebanon delayed formally asking the United Nations to help patrol the Lebanese coast to prevent weapons from being smuggled to Hizbollah guerrillas.

Beirut submitted the request to the United Nations last week and it reached Berlin last weekend. A government spokesman said the crucial rules of engagement had finally been received by the Germans.

The decision will be made at a weekly cabinet meeting tomorrow, the spokesman said. He said the agreed rules of engagement for UNIFIL naval peacekeepers meant that they would be able to effectively monitor Lebanon's coast.

''Altogether it adds up to a robust mandate,'' he said.

Germany will also be sending border patrol and customs officials to help Lebanese officials at airports and other border checkpoints.

Germany is expected to supply up to 3,000 military and customs personnel, according to German media reports.

German parliament will have to approve the deployment before naval force leaves for the West Asia.

Israel invaded south Lebanon after Hizbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross border raid on July 12. The conflict killed nearly 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers. A truce brokered by the United Nations halted the war on August 14.

REUTERS SAM BD1614

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