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France Agrees to Lead U.N. Peace Force in Lebanon

France agreed Wednesday to lead a U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, while the Lebanese cabinet voted to start moving 15,000 troops to the region. U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown discusses the U.N. effort.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Maintaining the new peace in Lebanon, as seen by Mark Malloch Brown. He's the deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, and he joins us now from the U.N. in New York.

    Mr. Deputy Secretary-General, welcome.

  • MARK MALLOCH BROWN, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General:

    Thank you, Jim.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    In general, what is the condition of the cease-fire tonight?

  • MARK MALLOCH BROWN:

    Pretty good. I mean, so far we've had pretty few incidents, and our UNIFIL soldiers, along with cooperation from both Israel and Lebanon, have been able to diffuse the incidents that have occurred until now. So it's holding, but we can't take it for granted, which is why we need to move so quickly to put in place additional troops.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Well, today, for instance, the Lebanese cabinet made that decision to send in 15,000 troops beginning tomorrow. Is that a positive development?

  • MARK MALLOCH BROWN:

    Very positive. I mean, it's been one of the big surprises that Lebanon has been able to agree to do that and that Prime Minister Siniora has successfully pushed it, because it's really changed the whole equation in southern Lebanon. Lebanese sovereignty will have essentially been restored to the south by this deployment, and it makes our role as the U.N. force easier because we'll be working with a Lebanese partner.