Lebanon has welcomed Europe's decision to accept 'effective participation' in the UN peacekeeping force in the country, saying the move would help the government reassert its authority in south Lebanon and restore stability to the war-ravaged country.
"The EU's decision to heavily participate ... Will buttress Lebanon's efforts to impose its authority in south Lebanon, consolidate stability and support the implementation of (UN) Resolution 1701," a Lebanese government official said late on Friday night.
The official, close to Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to make statements to the media.
With a UN-brokered ceasefire brittle and the new UN mandate still vague, European nations have finally stepped up to offer what UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called the 'backbone' of a strengthened UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
EU foreign ministers agreed on Friday at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, to send a European contingent of up to 6,900 troops - nearly half the 15,000 soldiers called for in the UN resolution that ended the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war on August 14.
Israel said it would lift its air and sea embargo of Lebanon once the international force takes control - though that could take up to three months.
The bolstered force will back up 15,000 soldiers from the Lebanese army as they extend into southern Lebanon, which has been controlled by Hezbollah guerrillas, while Israel withdraws its troops.