(Itar-Tass) - The UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations will hold at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday the first meeting with officials of the states potential participants in the enlarged contingent of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Mallock Brown will chair the meeting, the press service of the United Nations told, reports Trend.
Resolution 1701 adopted by the UN Security Council on Friday envisages a gradual withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon as the Lebanese army and blue helmets are deployed there and their joint numerical strength will reach 30,000 men 15,000 from each side. It is expected that the first statements on the dispatch of additional units for the enlargement of the blue helmets contingent in south areas of Lebanon. At present the UNIFIL personnel comprise 1,990 men.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi told journalists earlier that the United Nations hopes to send within 10-15 days the first reinforcement for UNIFIL comprising 3,500 blue helmets. However, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in an interview to Israeli television that the full-scale deployment of the additional contingent of blue helmets in South Lebanon will take weeks and moths. Annan also said the disarmament of the radical Shiite group Hezbollah will not be among the tasks of the reinforced 15,000-strong UNIFIL contingent. He said the UNIFIL sill assist the Lebanese government in this work, but the mandate does not allow the forces to take part in it.
At present 45 countries have taken part in two rounds of technical consultations on the formation of the additional UNIFIL contingent. According to reports coming here, France has announced readiness to head the UNIFIL at least till February 2007. Paris conditioned this step by giving clear-cut powers to the peacekeepers and sufficient funds for the fulfilment of their mission.