The Spanish government agreed Friday to contribute up to 1,100 troops to the strengthened UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon and lead one of its multinational brigades.
Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said that, assuming the mission is approved, Spain will immediately send marines to Lebanon. They will be replaced in November by other Spanish troops, who will take command of a multinational brigade, she said.
The Socialist government took power in 2004 and quickly withdrew 1,300 troops from Iraq that the previous, conservative administration had sent without consulting the parliament. The administration also enacted a law requiring parliamentary approval for overseas troop deployments.
This new deployment is legitimate because it has a UN mandate and Israel and Hizbullah have agreed to a peacekeeping force, the deputy prime minister said.
The Socialists had said the Iraq invasion was illegal because it had no UN mandate.
Rajoy called Zapatero a hypocrite, saying he depicted himself as a pacifist but now wants to send troops into a potential war zone.
Meanwhile, Indonesian troops are almost certain to take part in a UN peacekeeping mission to Lebanon and could be dispatched next month, Indonesia's defense minister said on Friday.
"Maybe in mid-October," Juwono Sudarsono said when asked when Indonesian forces could be sent, adding that Indonesia had a 90 percent chance of taking part in the UN force.