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    Russia to send construction workers to Lebanon if asked-Putin

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    COMPIENGE (France) September 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will send a small group of construction workers to Lebanon only if it is convinced that all political forces in the country agree to this, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.

    Russia has proposed sending combat engineers to Lebanon to help it restore the infrastructure destroyed during the war.

    "We will only do it if we are convinced that all Lebanese political forces want this and that our involvement there is welcomed by all political forces," he said.

    He said Russia was ready to send a small group of military construction specialists to Lebanon to help the country rebuilt the infrastructure - roads and bridges.

    "We are planning to do this not as part of the UN mission but on a bilateral basis," he said. "We believe that it will be a substantial contribution to the international reconstruction effort in Lebanon."

    The UN is presiding over humanitarian efforts and is to deploy 15,000 peacekeepers in southern Lebanon to ensure a ceasefire after month-long fighting between the Lebanon-based Hizbollah radical group and Israel, which claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Lebanese and about 160 Israelis.

    Russia has already provided $2 million worth of aid to Lebanon during the crisis, when it sent four aircraft with goods requested by the Lebanese government to Cyprus, where they were passed on to UN workers, who delivered them to Lebanon.

    Lavrov said Russia could provide financial aid through such UN structures as the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Russia is also considering participation in the international peacekeeping force in Lebanon, the foreign ministry earlier said.

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