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UPDATED: 09:33, September 12, 2006
Lebanon asks Germany for naval involvement
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Germany said on Monday that Lebanon has asked for the German navy to join in the expanded UN mandate in the war-worn country, a government spokesman said.

"Lebanon has made the request to the United Nations at the weekend and it has been passed on to us," Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said at a press briefing.

Wilhelm said Germany was now awaiting Lebanon and the United Nations to finalize "operations plan and the rules of engagement" before it sends ships to the Middle East.

Germany, which will contribute 2,000 soldiers, has offered to lead the naval component of the mission, but frustrated by uncertain mandate and timing. The navy has to wait for sailing orders to Lebanon.

Israel and Lebanon were at odds about what should come first: lifting the sea blockade of Lebanon or deploying German ships.

This made Germany delay an announcement last week about the size of its contribution.

But Israel's lifting of the blockade on Friday paved the way for Lebanon to request for the deployment of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon along its coast to prevent weapons from being smuggled to Hezbollah by sea.

Israel imposed the blockade on Lebanon at the start of its 34- day offensive to combat Hezbollah militia in the south of the country.

Source: Xinhua

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