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State Dept. Won’t Say if the Mnf Will Replace IDF in Shouf Area

The State Department declined to comment today on whether the existing multi-national force (MNF) will be sent into the Shouf mountains of Lebanon once the Israeli forces redeploy to the Awali River.

Deputy spokesman Alan Romberg also was asked whether Israel has postponed its redeployment for a few days at the request of the United States and Lebanon and whether the Lebanese government had asked the United States and some other countries to move the MNF into the Shouf mountains once Israel moves out.

Romberg replied: “I can’t confirm any of that and I wouldn’t get into questions of discussions of that sort. Obviously, the issue of the MNF and what it might or might not do in the wake of the Israeli pullback is something that people are thinking about.”

He said that, “in the absence of various sorts of information, including specifically what the political situation will be, in the area from which Israeli forces will be pulling back, it really is premature to make decisions or even consider hard recommendations.”

Ramberg confirmed that Ambassador Robert McFarlane is in Rome today, conferring with Italian officials, but provided no details on their conversations. He stated, however, “we and the Italians share a number of common interests and concerns about what is going on in the region and specifically in Lebanon. They are a contributing member to the MNF and certainly that will be a natural topic for discussion.”

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