The Netherlands is to send one ship to join the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Defence minister Henk Kamp said on Friday afternoon that a frigate and a support vessel would take turns in joining the mission which will require a total of 150 troops.
The Dutch ship will join UN efforts to clamp down on illegal arms smuggling to Lebanon. The deployment still has to be approved by MPs who will only back sending troops to UN missions if they meet strict guidelines and minimise the risks to Dutch soldiers. Kamp said he is satisifed with the ‘robust’ agreements made on dealing with violence. Ships suspected of carrying arms will be searched even without their captains’ permission if need be and arms confiscated, Kamp said. Concrete agreements have also been made with the Lebanese authorities about operating within Lebanese territorial waters. Italy is currently in charge of the maritime mission and Germany is due to take over shortly. Greece and Bulgaria are also supplying ships.
Holland said earlier it would not supply ground troops to Lebanon because of commitments elsewhere. Dutch troops are currently involved in a number of peace-keeping missions. Some 3,600 will have been involved in Afghanistan by the end of the year. A further 300 soldiers are serving in Bosnia, while defence staff are also involved in training and monitoring missions in Iraq and Sudan.
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