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Peacekeepers set for Lebanon

Peacekeepers set for Lebanon

Kampong Speu province

THE Royal Cambodian Armed Forces yesterday kicked off a peacekeeping training course in Kampong Speu province for 30 soldiers, most of whom are set to participate in the Kingdom’s first Middle East peacekeeping operation later this year, officials said.

Prak Sokhon, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers who is also vice president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, said 20 of the soldiers would be sent with an engineering company as part of a 216-member delegation to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

He said the Cambodian peacekeepers would largely participate in demining and construction projects. Later this week, he said, some members of the Cambodian delegation as well as some of their equipment are set to depart.

“During this week, equipment and tools of this company will be shipped out of Sihanoukville port to Lebanon,” Prak Sokhon said. “In the next couple of days, our lead forces of 20 personnel will also depart for Lebanon in order to receive the shipment and set up the facilities.”

The UN’s Interim Force in Lebanon was established in 1978 and tasked in part with confirming Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The operation’s mandate was expanded following the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War.

Sem Sovanny, director general of the Institute for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance in Oudong district, where the three-week training is being held, said the soldiers would answer to instructors from Cambodia, Senegal, Canada, Togo and Mali.

Outgoing French ambassador Jean-Francois Desmazières also attended yesterday’s ceremony, a gesture that an embassy official later said was “part of the French embassy’s longstanding support of Cambodian participation in UN peacekeeping missions”.

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