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German Gov't Agrees 'in Principle' on Sending Troops to Mideast
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The German government has agreed "in principle" to send troops to join an expanded UN peacekeeping force to be deployed in south Lebanon, government sources said.

But the size of the troops and how they will participate in the peacekeeping mission are still under discussion, the sources were quoted by the German news agency DPA as saying.

As there is a widespread concern among German politicians in both Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic camp (CDU/CSU) and her Social Democrat (SPD) partner party that the deployment of German combat forces along the Lebanese-Israeli border might cause confrontations between German troops and Israeli forces, a dominant view is for Germany to send its navy to patrol the coast off Lebanon and Israel.

Another option is to send German police to the Syrian-Lebanese border to provide logistical support for the international peacekeeping force in the Middle East.

Government spokesman Thomas Steg said on Monday that the cabinet could decide on Germany's role in the UN peacekeeping force next week.

Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said on Tuesday that Germany will make concrete proposals on its contribution to the international force for Lebanon at a UN meeting in New York on Thursday.

Under the German political system, any participation of German troops in an international peacekeeping force must be approved by parliament.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 passed on Friday authorizes a reinforcement of the current 2,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon by another 13,000 as Israeli troops withdraw from southern Lebanon following the recent fighting with Lebanon's Hezbollah.

(Xinhua News Agency August 16, 2006 )

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