(photo credit: AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday reiterated Russia's plans to dispatch a military construction unit to Lebanon to repair the damage inflicted by the summer's Israel-Hizbullah war.
"We are prepared to make the decision to send a small construction contingent to Lebanon to render assistance to that country in restoring its infrastructure, which was destroyed by air raids," Putin told reporters after a summit northwest of Paris with President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
However, in contrast with Moscow's earlier statements that Russia was definitely sending the forces, Putin stipulated that the move must be welcomed by "all political forces" in Lebanon.
"We will do so if we are sure that all Lebanese political forces want this and that our involvement there is welcomed by all Lebanese political forces," Putin said.
Russia has not contributed to some 5,000-strong UN peacekeeping contingent in southern Lebanon and Putin said the military engineers would be sent outside the UN mandate.