Chirac: UN force does not need 15,000 troops

French President Jacques Chirac said Friday that he does not believe the strengthened UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon needs 15,000 troops, calling that figure excessive. UN Resolution 1701 calls for the force in southern Lebanon to expand from 2,000 troops to up to 15,000. Chirac said the territory in question was too small to require that many peacekeepers. "My feeling is that the figure that was put forward at the beginning of discussions - 15,000 for a reinforced UNIFIL - was a figure that was quite excessive," he told reporters during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. On Thursday, Chirac announced that France would contribute a total of 2,000 troops to the force.