France's foreign minister said Thursday that France had agreed to a request from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to monitor sea lanes off Lebanon to ensure that weapons don't reach Hizbullah. Philippe Douste-Blazy made the comments at a news conference two days after President Jacques Chirac gave his tentative support for the request. Israel agreed to lift its nearly two-month-old blockade by Thursday, under pressure from Annan and the international community.
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"We're going to make sure there are no deliveries" of arms by Hizbullah, Douste-Blazy said. "We have accepted" Annan's offer, he added.
Annan has been working to strike a deal in which French, Italian, Greek and later German ships would agree to patrol Lebanon's coast in place of Israeli military forces, which have been blockading Lebanon by sea to keep weapons from being shipped to Hizbullah.
France already has two frigates and a transport ship in the eastern Mediterranean to support humanitarian efforts in Lebanon.