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Lebanese Cabinet Approves Deployment of Troops to the South


Lebanon's Cabinet has approved the deployment of soldiers to parts of the south where Israel is withdrawing its troops.

Officials in Beirut say the Cabinet Wednesday approved a plan to send Lebanese troops south of the Litani river beginning Thursday.

Lebanon's information minister Ghazi Aridi said after the cabinet meeting that there will be "no arms outside the authority of the state." But he did not say how or if Lebanese soldiers will confiscate Hezbollah weapons.

The United Nations Security Council resolution on ending the fighting between Hezbollah guerrillas and Israel calls for Lebanon to send 15,000 troops to the south, alongside up to 15,000 international peacekeepers. It also calls for Hezbollah to be disarmed.

Earlier today, Israel's military chief of staff Dan Halutz warned that his country will stop withdrawing troops from Lebanon if the Lebanese army is not deployed within days.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is sending special envoys to the Middle East on Thursday to assess the progress of the ceasefire.

In Paris, France's Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said her country is ready to lead the U.N. force in Lebanon.

Envoys from France, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia met in Beirut today to work out the details of the force. They are expected to contribute to the peace-keeping mission.

Germany has said it will help in monitoring the border between Syria and Lebanon so that new arms do not reach Hezbollah.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Reuters.