Malaysia delays dispatch of UNIFIL troops

Malaysia said Saturday it is delaying its deployment of peacekeeping troops to Lebanon until the end of the year, a news report said. Defense Forces Chief Anwar Mohamad Nor said the 360 Malaysian forces are set to begin their duties with the United Nations peacekeeping mission shortly after Jan. 15, and that their journey to Lebanon should take 24 days by sea, the national news agency Bernama reported. Officials last month said the Malaysian deployment would leave for Lebanon on Nov. 5. Anwar did not specify a new departure date nor give a reason for the delay. Defense officials could not immediately be reached for comment. About 200 of the troops are expected to take up administrative duties at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, while the rest will be part of a rapid reaction force, officials have said.