PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN LEBANON
Mon Jul 31, 12:27 PM ET
UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council extended the peacekeeping mission
in Lebanon by one month Monday, a move
meant to ensure that the force does not conflict with what could be a larger international deployment.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and many world leaders say they want to deploy
a larger peacekeeping force with greater authority and more experienced troops if Hezbollah and Israel agree to end three weeks of fighting.
The council was forced to
take action on the U.N. mission now because the peacekeepers' mandate was to expire Monday.
The U.N. Interim Force in
Lebanon has been deployed in the region since 1978, charged with reporting
violations of peace along the U.N.-demarcated buffer zone between Israel
and Lebanon known as the Blue Line.
Its task was made largely
irrelevant by the renewed conflict between Israel
and Hezbollah, sparked July 12 when Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers. Four U.N. observers were killed when
Israeli fire hit their post last week.
Annan initially planned
to hold a meeting Monday that would have brought together nations willing to send troops for the expanded force. But diplomats
said the meeting was postponed to give more time for diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the region.