Portuguese troops leave for Lebanon in October

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Portugal's Superior Council of National Defence (CSDN) decided Wednesday the composition of the countries' participation in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The decision reached by the Superior Council of National Defence yesterday evening will be to send a Engineering Company with 140 troops as part of its participation in UN's peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

At the end of the Council's meeting CSDN's spokesman, General Goulão de Melo told the journalists that the Portuguese contingent would participate in the "reconstruction of the infrastructures destroyed during the war", adding that the duration of the mission will be established in agreement with the UN's established calendar.

Portugal's Defense Minister Nuno Severiano Teixeira said Wednesday night, during a news conference that the Company, based in Santa Margarida, near Abrantes, will be deployed on October 14, integrating this way what the Minister considers UNIFIL' third generation forces.

"They will be on the ground but they are not a fighting force; they will be working on reconstruction so the risk they face is moderate", Teixeira said.

This confirms what already was foreseen by defence specialists, due the fact that Portugal doesn't have any adequate means available for the Lebanese Theater of Operations, and since countries like Germany and the Netherlands already confirmed the possibility of sending warships, a Portuguese offer of a frigate to patrol the Lebanese coast would become redundant.

Also at the meeting held by the CSDN the reduction of the Portuguese participation in international peacekeeping missions was approved. The Defense Minister responded by saying that Portugal already has manifested the interest in reducing its participation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also the reduction of the Portuguese Marines currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is scheduled to begin on November.

The Portuguese participation in the UNIFIL is calculated in 9.3 millions. Portugal will spend this year about 88.4 millions with all its international missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, and Kosovo.