Chirac discusses Lebanon force with European PMs

August 19, 2006 21:35

French President Jacques Chirac spoke by telephone with the prime ministers of Italy, Turkey and Finland on Saturday about the expanded UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, the Elysee presidential palace said. France, which commands the current 2,000-strong force known as UNIFIL, has stressed the force needs a clear mandate to operate effectively - a position echoed by Italy, which has agreed to supply extra troops for the force but has not specified how many. The United Nations said on Friday more European soldiers were needed for a vanguard force of 3,500 troops that the UN wants on the ground by Aug. 28 to enforce a cease-fire between Israel and Hizbullah. Chirac discussed the composition and future mandate of the expanded UNIFIL force with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, his office said in a statement.

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