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UN approves Malaysian troops for peacekeeping force in Lebanon

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Wednesday September 20, 2006

Kuala Lumpur- The United Nations has approved the inclusion of 360 Malaysian troops in an international peacekeeping force for Lebanon, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Wednesday. Abdullah, speaking to Malaysian journalists in New York after talks with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, said the troops, approved despite the initial objection of Israel, were already prepared to report for duty.

"They can be deployed any time," Abdullah was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.

Abdullah thanked the United Nations for accepting Malaysians in the force, adding that Malaysia would always be prepared to send troops under the world organization.

At first, Israel had objected to countries that don't have diplomatic ties with it from contributing peacekeepers, but it stepped back from that stance. Neither Malaysia or Indonesia, another Muslim-majority, Asian country contributing peacekeepers, have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Malaysia, which also currently chairs the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, had offered to send 1,000 soldiers to join the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

"We have stated since the beginning that we are ready to send 1,000 peacekeepers, ... so we'll have to wait," Abdullah said. "If there is a request for more troops, then we will deploy them."

The planned 15,000-strong UNIFIL contingent is to be deployed in a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur