Germany Offers To Train Lebanese Police and Army
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BERLIN — Germany is ready to train Lebanese military and security staff as part of a United Nations-mandated multinational effort to enforce peace between Israel and Hezbollah, the deputy foreign minister, Gernot Erler, said.
The German government, which this month pledged 780 troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help provide security during elections, considered contributing soldiers to the international security force in southern Lebanon proposed by the United Nations, Mr. Erler said in an interview in Berlin. Still, the country’s Nazi past prevents participation in any active peacekeeping mission, he said.
“It’s clear that this was an issue if one talks about deploying between 20,000 and 30,000 soldiers there,” Mr. Erler said yesterday. “I believe we will be able to find a way to make a contribution once the mandate is there.”
Germany’s military resources to participate in foreign missions have been “broadly exhausted,” Chancellor Merkel told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview published July 29. “There’s a whole range of tasks that Germany can fulfill as part of international efforts to achieve a sustainable peace solution,” Mrs. Merkel said.
“I think we can find a way” to make a contribution “without having to face a really hairy situation for Germany like some kind of combat order directed against Israeli soldiers,” Mr. Erler said. “That, of course, would be completely unthinkable.”
The German government expects the U.N. Security Council to adopt a “very complex” mandate including “different tasks” such as training Lebanon’s armed forces, police units, and border-control staff, Mr. Erler said.
“It would be very helpful for us if the mandate is defined in a way that allows us to make a reasonable contribution that neither exceeds our resources nor puts us into difficulties” such as the possibility of having to confront Israeli soldiers, the 62-year-old Social Democrat said.
Germany, which has frozen defense spending for at least three years, has 6,800 troops abroad, some 2,750 of which are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Another 2,350 soldiers are deployed with NATO’s peacekeeping force in Kosovo, the Federal Army’s Web site shows, while the remaining 1,700 troops include the country’s Congo deployment.
Mr. Erler said an “axis” of French, Turkish, and Egyptian troops could form “a stable basis” for the multinational force designed to assist the Lebanese government regain control of the border region from Hezbollah militias.