Qatar first Arab nation to send peacekeepers

Qatar announced Monday that it would send a small detachment of 200 to 300 troops to the UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, making the tiny Persian Gulf state the first Arab country to commit soldiers to the force. Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said the contribution was an attempt by Qatar "to tell the world of the Arab presence, even modestly, in this force and to tell Israel that we believe in this decision and so we want to contribute in implementing it." The announcement came after Sheik Hamad held talks with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Doha. Sheik Hamad did not say when the troops will deploy, but insisted that the peacekeeping force must have "specific and clear duties." Annan, who is currently on a Mideast tour, thanked Qatar for its contribution.