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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Turkish troops arrive in Lebanon
Turkish troops in Ankara ahead of joining the UN force, 12 Oct
Turkish troops will carry out reconstruction and de-mining work
A group of nearly 100 Turkish soldiers and engineers has arrived in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, to help reinforce the UN peacekeeping mission in the south.

The Turkish troops are expected to be involved in reconstruction and de-mining work following the 34-day conflict between Hezbollah and Israel.

They will join an advance Turkish force which arrived 10 days ago in the face of widespread opposition at home.

Turkey is the first contributor with a majority Muslim population.

In September, thousands protested in the capital, Ankara, calling on politicians not to send troops to fight fellow Muslims.

Muslim nations Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Qatar have pledged to send troops later this year.

Turkish hopes

Turkey's parliament voted 340-192 in favour of sending the troops, despite widespread opposition.

The government believes involvement in the Lebanon mission will bolster its role within the Middle East and advance its ambition to join the European Union.

Turkey is the only Muslim-majority member of Nato and has good relations with both Israel and its Arab neighbours.

In a bid to quell fears, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured the public that the soldiers would withdraw if they were asked to disarm Hezbollah.

The country's foreign minister said that the number of troops to be deployed would not exceed 1,000.

The UN is installing 15,000 peacekeepers in southern Lebanon as part of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the conflict.


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