Italy Bails Out France
Italy’s prime minister has tentatively offered to take the leadership role in Lebanon’s peacekeeping mission with a deployment of 3,000 troops. France, which was to lead the mission, has offered only 200 troops after expressing concern over the force’s mandate.
Tensions are still high in Lebanon, with fears over the tenuous cease-fire mounting. The U.N. has been urging more nations to join the force?and quickly.
Mr Prodi said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would make a decision on the force by the weekend.
Italy’s “positive role” was welcomed by the Lebanese cabinet, Information Minister Gazi Afridi said.
Israel has already said it would be happy if Italy led the force.
But Italy’s offer to lead the force appears to be conditional on an agreement being reached on a new UN resolution, the AFP news agency reported.