Portugal formally commits to participate in UN's force

Friday, August 25, 2006

Portugal committed itself to participate in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), in an announcement in Brussels today. The size and the exact form of Portugal's participation will be decided in the next days by the Portuguese Superior Council of National Defence.

"We assumed the political responsibility to accompany the European partners", Luís Amado, Portugal's Foreign Affairs Minister, said.

Luís Amado said that the government has been coordinating with President Cavaco Silva and the Armed Forces over the composition and size of the Portuguese contingent, with several possible scenarios.

"The Prime Minister has been in contact with the President that will convene the Superior Council of National Defence", Amado added.

The Foreign Affairs Minister refused to confirm details of the deployment, which have been speculated upon by the press, which advanced the possibility of sending of a mechanized group, a engineering company or a frigate.

"I had the chance to announce our participation in this force, having started the constitutional procedures that will allow us in the next days to announce the exact dimension of our participation", concluded Amado.

Portugal currently has a Portuguese Air Force C-130 Hercules flying United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' missions, to transport humanitarian aid to Lebanon, and has deployed more than 800 troops in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor and Kosovo. Another 200 troops are expected to be deployed in the next months to Afghanistan and East Timor to reinforce the current forces there.