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UN clears local troops for duty in Lebanon

UN clears local troops for duty in Lebanon

THE United Nations has approved a contingent of at least 200 troops that is set to join the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, a move that would mark the Kingdom’s first foray into Middle East peacekeeping, officials said.

A UN delegation began observing the troops on Saturday, said Sem Sovanny, the director general of the government’s Institute for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW (explosive remnants of war) Clearance.

“The UN came to check our preparedness to fulfill the mission in Lebanon,” Sem Sovanny said. “On the first day, they introduced themselves and explained why they came to Cambodia. On the second day, we introduced ourselves and talked about our preparedness. And on the next day they checked whether we had fulfilled the conditions – including whether we had enough forces, and whether we had vaccinations and passports and so forth.”

Suong Khunny, the deputy director general of the institute , added: “Then the UN said OK.”

Suong Khunny said the contingent would be composed mainly of engineers but would also include a handful of de-miners. He said he believed the mission would begin in July and last for about a year, though he noted that those details had not been finalised.

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.

Cambodia has previously participated in peacekeeping missions in Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic, a fact Prime Minister Hun Sen touted in a statement dated April 4 and released yesterday, citing the Kingdom’s participation as “evidence of the solidarity and peace of Cambodia with other nations all over the world”.

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