The United Nations will hold a meeting today for potential troop contributors who might participate in the proposed 15,000 UN peacekeeping force to be deployed to southern Lebanon under a Security Council resolution, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday.
The meeting, organized by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and chaired by Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch-Brown, will bring together potential troop-contributing countries at the UN headquarters.
The 15-member Security Council adopted resolution 1701 on Friday, calling for a cessation of hostilities in the one-month conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. It authorized the 2,000-strong UN peacekeeping force now in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, to be beefed up to a total of 15,000 well-equipped troops.
The spokesman said the no firm offers had yet been received from potential contributors to the larger UN force for Lebanon but Thursday's meeting of troop-contributing countries might provide more information on this issue.
"What is clear is that we are trying to get as quickly as possible a very firm commitment so that we can deploy as quickly as possible," Dujarric said.
He noted that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operation has indicated that the United Nations would need and want 3,500 peacekeepers within the next two weeks in order to be able to reinforce the work already being done on the ground.
Hedi Annabi, the assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping, said on Tuesday he hoped for an advance deployment of up to 3,500 troops within two weeks to help consolidate the cessation of hostilities and start the process of the Israeli withdrawal and deployment of the Lebanese forces.
(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2006)