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EU's Solana Visits Beirut for Talks on Relations, Peacekeeping


European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana visited Beirut Saturday to meet with Lebanese officials and the commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force there.

Solana's one day visit to Beirut focused on European relations with Lebanon and the U.N. peacekeeping force, which is made up largely of Europeans.

Following talks with Lebanon's foreign minister, Solana said Europe wants its relations with Lebanon to grow. "We would like to see it evolving towards the future, and recuperating the energy and the capacity, economic and peacefully to their own full sovereignty, so that relationships between the EU and Lebanon can be deepened," he said.

Solana said the European Union is satisfied with progress made since August, when a U.N. resolution ended fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon.

The resolution called for a larger U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, near the Israeli border. Seven-thousand peacekeepers are currently in the area, and the peacekeeping force could expand to 15,000. "I think the application of the resolution has been done, in the correct fashion, from the UNIFIL point of view," he said.

Solana's stop in Beirut is part of a six-day trip to the Middle East. He earlier met with officials in Israel and the West Bank for talks on reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Solana also visits Jordan and Egypt.

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