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UN must agree to Lebanon peacekeepers - Putin

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An international peacekeeping force can only be sent to Lebanon after the UN Security Council makes a decision and the parties in the conflict agree, Russia's president said Monday.
STRELNA (near St. Petersburg), July 17 (RIA Novosti) - An international peacekeeping force can only be sent to Lebanon after the UN Security Council makes a decision and the parties in the conflict agree, Russia's president said Monday.

Vladimir Putin told a news conference at the Group of Eight summit, "As far as international forces are concerned, when the Security Council begins its work, we [leaders of the G8] will of course take part in this. But we first need to get the agreement from all the sides involved in the conflict."

Israel launched a military operation in Lebanon after the Hizbollah Islamist group took two Israeli soldiers hostage last Wednesday and conducted air strikes against its infrastructure. Over 100 Lebanese civilians have since been killed in fighting and more than 200 have been wounded.

Putin said that if a contingent is sent to the country, Russian forces will contribute to peacekeeping efforts.

"Russia is continually taking part in peacekeeping operations. And we will not turn away from involvement in such operations in the future."

G8 leaders will raise the issue at the Security Council, Putin said.

The Foreign Ministry said Monday Russia is in talks with countries bordering on Lebanon to ensure the safe evacuation of its citizens from the country.

According to the Russian Embassy in Beirut, more than 1,400 Russians currently reside in Lebanon.

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