'Deploying peacekeepers to s. Lebanon is suicide'

Sending an international peacekeeping force into southern Lebanon amid the IDF's offensive against Hizbullah guerrillas would amount to a "suicide mission," Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Thursday. Speaking at a conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Malaysia, Downer told reporters that forging a peaceful settlement in the region was a necessary prerequisite for the deployment of international forces. "There's no point in sending an international peacekeeping force on a suicide mission," Downer said. There is no current plan to deploy peacekeepers to southern Lebanon, where fighting continues to rage, but Australian forces have traditionally been a key component of such forces.