updated 7/31/2006 1:29:55 PM ET 2006-07-31T17:29:55

The U.N. Security Council extended the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon by one month Monday, a move meant to ensure that the force does not conflict with what could be a larger international deployment.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan and many world leaders say they want to deploy a larger peacekeeping force with greater authority and more experienced troops if Hezbollah and Israel agree to end three weeks of fighting.

The council was forced to take action on the U.N. mission now because the peacekeepers’ mandate was to expire Monday.

The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon has been deployed in the region since 1978, charged with reporting violations of peace along the U.N.-demarcated buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon known as the Blue Line.

Its task was made largely irrelevant by the renewed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, sparked July 12 when Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers. Four U.N. observers were killed when Israeli fire hit their post last week.

Annan initially planned to hold a meeting Monday that would have brought together nations willing to send troops for the expanded force. But diplomats said the meeting was postponed to give more time for diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the region.

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