Special report: Israel, Lebanon agree on ceasefire
Special report: Israel-Lebanon Conflicts [ Video ][Gallery]
BRUSSELS, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Foreign ministers from all 25 member states of the European Union (EU) held an "extraordinary" meeting on Friday afternoon, aimed to specify EU's contribution toa UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon.
The meeting is being chaired by Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the current EU presidency. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is also present at the meeting.
The ministers will work out EU's commitments of sending troops to the UN force in south Lebanon. They will also discuss a report by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Iran's nuclear issue, and review the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Before the start of the meeting, Annan told reporters he was confident that he could persuade European countries to contribute enough troops to the 15,000-strong international forces.
"I came with the hope that I will leave Brussels with a large number of soldiers," Annan said.
Tuomioja also said he hoped EU would be able to provide up to half of the 15,000 troops envisioned in UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was unanimously adopted earlier this month.
"(Today's) meeting will be very important for the credibility of the EU," said Tuomioja.
According to the UN resolution, the 2,000-strong UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) should expand to 15,000.
On Thursday, French President Jacques Chirac announced in a televised address that France would dispatch a total of 2,000 troops to Lebanon.
France had been facing weeks of criticism, particularly from the United States, for a previous announcement that it would only send 200 extra soldiers to reinforce the 200 French troops already serving the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the issue of which country should command the UN force in south Lebanon remains unsettled.
France has been leading UNIFIL for years. But earlier this week, Italy offered to lead the international force, pledging to send up to 3,000 soldiers. Rome's decision received praise and support from Washington.
"France is ready to continue to assume the command of the force, if the UN wishes it," Chirac said on Thursday.
Along with France and Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Hungary are all considering to join the peacekeeping operation. Enditem