French defense minister arrives in Beirut

France's defense minister arrived in Beirut Sunday, hours before some 900 French troops were to begin moving from the Lebanese capital to take up positions in south Lebanon. Michel Alliot-Marie told reporters at Beirut airport her visit aimed at reaffirming France's support for the Lebanese government. She said she will inspect her country's contingent to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The 900 French troops will on Monday join others already deployed in the area. Besides its ground forces, France has 1,700 naval personnel that are helping to patrol the coast. Alliot-Marie will travel Monday to south Lebanon and will meet with UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini. During her two-day visit, she will also meet Defense Minister Michel Murr and Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.