Military hard pressed to send troops to Lebanon

Denmark's military will not be able to deploy forces to a Nato peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, says the minister of defence

Despite a will, there is no way Denmark can significantly contribute to peacekeeping efforts in Lebanon, said the Minister of Defence Søren Gade.

The military is already strained by operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the minister told daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende.

'We have not discussed this in the government, but I have a difficult time seeing how in the short term a large force can be deployed,' said Gade.

Israel announced over the weekend that it would accept a peacekeeping force under Nato or EU command in southern Lebanon. The announcement took observers by surprise, as Israel has staunchly opposed the interference of foreign forces in its conflicts until now.

Gade said, however, that unless Danish forces were re-deployed from other missions, the military would only be able to deploy a small communications battalion.

'We currently have 1279 soldiers deployed and we have also committed ourselves to Sudan, if progress is made there. I know how important securing peace on the Lebanese border is, but I cannot see how any major contribution is possible.'

A similar position was expressed by the opposition Social Democrats.

'There is a need for a solid, international force in this area, and if we finally secure a Nato led force with a UN mandate, we ought to contribute also,' said Mogens Lykketoft, spokesperson on foreign affairs for the Social Democrats. 'The problem is, of course, that Danish forces are occupied other places.'

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