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German Public Rejects Joining UN Force in Mideast
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A majority of Germans are opposed to sending troops to join the United Nations force to keep peace in southern Lebanon, according to a German survey released on Friday.

The poll, conducted by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen for the public TV channel ZDF, showed that 58 percent of Germans are against sending troops to the border between Lebanon and Israel.

About 25 percent of those surveyed said that Germany could join the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the region only if German soldiers would not take part in any military action involving Israelis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that Germany would not provide ground troops to a United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

However, speaking to reporters after meeting parliamentary leaders, Merkel said that her country may provide naval security as part of its effort to keep peace in the region. German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung made a similar statement.

During a visit to a transport helicopter regiment in the town of Rheine, Jung said that his country's contribution to an international peacekeeping contingent would likely be naval forces and not land-based soldiers.

The defense minister said Germany could participate in a peacekeeping force by sending sailors to help secure the border between Syria and Lebanon, said a report by the German radio Deutsche Welle.

Germany now has around 8,000 soldiers participating in peacekeeping operations around the globe, including Afghanistan and Congo.

(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2006)


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