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No French decision to join UN observers in Syria: Pietton
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SIDON: French Ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton said Friday that France has no plans to contribute personnel to U.N. observers who will monitor a cease-fire in Syria.

“The French government did not receive a request to join [the monitors] and even if it had, we rule out joining the observers,” Pietton said during a farewell tour of south Lebanon.

Syria and the United Nations signed an agreement Thursday on terms for hundreds of observers to monitor a cease-fire as a “Friends of Syria” coalition meeting in Paris termed the U.N.-backed peace plan the “last hope” to resolve the crisis.

The 14-nation group – including the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar – called on the Syrian authorities to end all violence immediately and said it would work to ensure the success of Kofi Annan’s Arab League-U.N. plan.

“If this were not to happen,” the statement said, “the U.N. Security Council and international community would have to look at other options.”

Pietton described the U.N. resolution as “very important,” given that it was the first time that the international body takes a unified decision on Syria since the uprising began March 2011.

France has been decreasing the size of its of troops serving with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, which used to number approximately 1,800 personnel but is now closer to 900. The troops have been in the country since 2006, when UNIFIL expanded its presence and mission following the summer war between Israel and Lebanon.

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