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Monday, September 04, 2006

Al Jazeera: Qatar to send 200-300 peacekeepers to Lebanon

The Gulf state of Qatar said on Monday it would send some 200-300 troops to join a United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon, the Doha-based Al Jazeera television reported.

Al Jazeera did not give any details. If confirmed, Qatar would be the first Arab country to participate in the expanded UN force set up to keep the peace between Israel and Hezbollah in south Lebanon.

"We have decided that Qatar will participate in UNIFIL [the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon] by sending 200-300 military personnel and we believe UNIFIL must have specific duties on the ground," Sheikh Hamad told reporters during a visit to Doha by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Qatar, a political maverick in the conservative Gulf Arab region, maintains low-level ties with Israel. It is also a key U.S. ally and hosts a major U.S. military base.

Italian troops will make up the largest single contingent of the force known as UNIFIL II, to deploy in the south after a truce halted Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah on August 14.
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