Merkel voices support for Lebanon stabilization process
Lebanon-Germany, Politics, 9/5/2007
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her country's support for Lebanon's stabilization process after her talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in Berlin today.
Merkel pledged Germany's assistance for boosting security at the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Siniora met also with German Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul who pledged an additional 2 million euros in aid for some 400,000 Palestinian refugees based in Lebanon.
Siniora's visit followed Berlin's recent green light for extending the UN mandate of German naval units off the Lebanese coast for another year. The German parliament is still scheduled to debate extending the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mandate later this month. The cabinet is to slash the maximum number of naval soldiers provided to UNIFIL from 2,400 to 1,400. There are presently 1,000 troops stationed aboard eights ships.
Germany and several major western countries, among them the US and Britain, are openly backing the Siniora government.
Some 13,000 UN peacekeeping and Lebanese army troops are monitoring the truce between Israel and Lebanon's Islamic resistance Hizbullah following Israel's brutal military onslaught on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
Berlin is also involved in training Lebanese police and customs officials.
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