World leaders call on Turkey to contribute to peacekeeping in Lebanon
The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, French President Jacques Chirac and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi expressed their expectation on Saturday that Turkey should join the UN peacekeeping force to be deployed in south Lebanon.
During their phone talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the three leaders underlined importance of Turkey's participation in the peacekeeping force, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.
They also noted that the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces would be an important step to ensure a lasting peace between Israel and Lebanon.
For his part, Erdogan said that Turkey wanted to safeguard peace and stability in the region and welcomed the UN Security Council's decision to deploy peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
The Turkish prime minister also noted that his country will decide whether to contribute to the UN peacekeeping force after discussion, adding that the decision needs to be approved by the Turkish parliament.
Earlier, Turkey has expressed willingness to contribute to the peacekeeping force in Lebanon, but said that even if it eventually sends troops to Lebanon, the force will under no circumstances be a combat force.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who paid a one-day visit to Lebanon on Wednesday, will leave for Israel on Sunday to discuss the possible troop deployment in south Lebanon, reported Anatolia.
Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah ended a 34-day-long fighting on Monday after the UN Security Council adopted a ceasefire resolution, which authorizes an increase of the existing UN force in Lebanon to 15,000 troops to help Lebanon take control of south Lebanon, while Israel withdraws in parallel.
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