US, Israel for NATO-led force in Lebanon
The United States and Israel said on Sunday that they were ready to support an international force led by NATO in south Lebanon to ease tensions.india Updated: Jul 24, 2006 03:51 IST
The United States and Israel said on Sunday that they were ready to support an international force led by NATO in south Lebanon to ease tensions.
No US troops are likely to be in the force, which according to a US media report could be between 10,000 and 20,000 strong and led by a contingent from France or Turkey.
There could be delicate questions, however, over whether the force's mission is to disarm Hezbollah or to support the Lebanese army's efforts to take control in the south of the country.
John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said on Sunday the US administration would take the idea of NATO leading a buffer force "seriously".
In Jerusalem, Defence Minister Amir Peretz said Israel supported the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon.
As Israel pursues its military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon, an operation which has left hundreds dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, the proposed force is to be discussed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her mission to Middle East this week.
"It's a new idea. We'll certainly take it seriously," Bolton said on CNN television's "Late Edition" programme when asked about the possibility of NATO leading the force.
"I think we have been looking carefully at the possibility of a multinational force perhaps authorised by the Security Council, but not a UN-helmeted force," he added.
Rice had already stated that US was open to the proposal. She is to discuss plans for a possible force during her trip this week to the Middle East and to attend an international conference in Rome on the Lebanon crisis.