EU foreign ministers commit increased numbers of troops to Lebanon
The EU foreign ministers, meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Brussels on Friday, 25 August, gave their full support to the swift implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1701 and committed to forming the backbone of the enlarged UNIFIL operation in Lebanon, providing half of the expanded force.
Foreign Minister Tuomioja envisaged troops in Lebanon in a week
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said on Thursday on a visit to Germany that the EU hoped to see initial UN peacekeeping reinforcements arrive in the Middle East within a week. The full force is not expected to reach Lebanon earlier than in a month or two. Foreign Minister Tuomioja visited Berlin on 24 August and met with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Finland preparing to send peacekeeping forces to Lebanon
Finland is making provision for sending a reinforced company, meaning at most 200-250 troops, to take part in the crisis management operation in Lebanon. The operation is, however, only in the stages of preparation. A separate decision on participation will be taken later, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said after a meeting with the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy and the President of the Republic on Friday.
Possibility for the EU to play a key role in the Middle Eastern conflict
“Finding a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in the Middle East and the reconstruction soon to begin are a test of the European Union’s external policy. The EU has the possibility to play a key role, because the EU is the only international actor that has credibility in the eyes of all parties to the conflict,” said Paula Lehtomäki, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, who just returned from a visit to the region.
The return home of Lebanese who fled hostilities a challenge to humanitarian aid
The extent and speed of the return of Lebanese have come as a surprise to all actors, and constitute a great challenge for aid organisations as they strive to meet changing demands, says Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paula Lehtomäki after visiting Lebanon.
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