Australia offers 'very limited' forces to Lebanon

The United States has asked Australia to contribute troops to a proposed peacekeeping force in war-torn Lebanon, but any Australian contingent would be "very limited," its foreign minister said Sunday. Alexander Downer said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made the request when the pair met in Malaysia last week at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations security summit. "She was very enthusiastic about there being some sort of Australian contribution, although I told her that would inevitably be a very limited one if it were to happen," Downer told Nine Network television. Australian delegates will attend a UN meeting in New York on Monday to discuss the formation of a multinational force to bring peace to southern Lebanon, where Israel is battling Hizbullah guerrillas.