Italy formally agrees to send peacekeeping troops

Italy's government formally agreed Friday to send peacekeeping troops to Lebanon, giving the mission its political backing, the premier said. "It's an important choice for the country, which is aware of its implications and consequences," Romano Prodi said. The announcement followed a Cabinet meeting one day after Prodi's office said he was pushing the United Nations for explicit ground rules for the peacekeeping force. Italy has said it could quickly send as many as 3,000 soldiers to southern Lebanon to strengthen the existing UNIFIL force. Italy has been trying to be a major player in efforts to end the fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah guerrillas.