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UN Appeals for European Troops for S. Lebanon

U.N. Under-Secretary General Mark Malloch-Brown is urging European nations to commit troops to the first wave of 35-hundred international forces scheduled to deploy in southern Lebanon by September 2nd.

Two-thousand U.N. troops are already in southern Lebanon and U.N. officials want another 35-hundred to join them by September 2nd.

The U.N. resolution that brought about the current truce between Israel and Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon calls for up to 15,000 international troops to support 15,000 Lebanese troops.

Several nations offered troops at a meeting Thursday, but Malloch-Brown appealed to European nations to firm up their commitments in order to create a balanced multinational force.

"The firm commitments came from Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Nepal. That is enormously helpful and a major contribution. But we want this force that we deploy to have a multinational, multilateral character so that it enjoys the confidence of both sides. We said before that a Muslim-European or a European- Muslim force because of both groups' interest in this situation, but they bring when you combine them a legitimacy that satisfies both sides to this conflict. It is very important that Europe now steps forward."

Malloch-Brown says questions about the scope of the mission and specific information about the rules of engagement have been answered and he hopes government officials and military planers in European capitols will make decisions over the next days. He says the U.N. force is not an offensive force, but will use force if necessary to guarantee Israel's security.