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Israel studying Lebanon's offer, says Olmert

india Updated: Aug 08, 2006 18:54 IST
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Israel is studying Lebanon's offer to deploy some 15,000 Lebanese troops along the Israel-Lebanon border, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday.

Israel has long demanded a deployment of Lebanese forces, along with the disarming of Hezbollah guerrillas.

However, it appeared Israeli leaders were reluctant to embrace Lebanon's offer more strongly because of concern it might be a ploy to get Israeli troops out of south Lebanon, without removing Hezbollah first.

Olmert suggested on Tuesday that Israel would want to see the deployment of Lebanese troops, along with a strong multinational force, in south Lebanon.

"We are studying this proposal," Olmert said of the Lebanese offer.

He reiterated that Israel has no intention of reoccupying south Lebanon.

"The faster we leave south Lebanon, the happier we will be, especially if we have achieved our goals," he said.

Currently, more than 10,000 Israeli soldiers are fighting several hundred Hezbollah guerrillas in south Lebanon.

On Wednesday, the Israeli Security Cabinet was expected to approve an army plan for pushing even deeper into Lebanon, until the Litani River, about 30 kms from the border.

Defence Minister Amir Peretz said the military campaign would continue, and that Israel would not wait for diplomatic efforts to bear fruit.

Arab countries have registered objections because the draft does not say specifically that Israeli troops have to leave south Lebanon as part of a truce.

Israel has said its troops will only leave once a multinational force has been deployed.

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