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Hezbollah to Co-op with UN Force: Lebanese PM
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Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniorahas assured Italy that the militant group Hezbollah will cooperate with a United Nations peacekeeping force, according to the statement issued Thursday by Italian premier's office.

During a "long and cordial phone conversation" with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Siniora thanked Italy for its promises to contribute to the international force, which is being sent to help the Lebanese army enforce a ceasefire in effect since Monday, the statement said.

Siniora also said Hezbollah had "accepted the conditions of UN Resolution 1701 and will cooperate with the UN force".

The Lebanese premier informed Prodi that Lebanese troops had started moving south of the River Litani, in accordance with conditions laid down under the UN resolution.

Prodi confirmed that Italian troops would participate in the UN force.

He told Siniora that details of the contingent would be discussed during a Friday morning cabinet meeting.

He added that the Resolution had been fundamental to Italy's decision to participate in the force.

Resolution 1701, adopted last Friday, requires Hezbollah and Israel to end their military operations and obliges Israel to withdraw its troops from southern Lebanon as soon as the international force arrives.

It calls for an expansion of a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon since 1978 to help the Lebanese army enforce the truce.

Lebanese soldiers are being deployed to the southern part of the country to enforce a three day-old ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel.

A 15,000-strong UN peacekeeping force, guided by France, will also be sent to the area.

Italy, which has offered to assume the role of second-in-command in the force, is expected to contribute around 3,000 troops.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2006)

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