France, US debate response to latest Lebanese offer

8th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 8, 2006 (AFP) - The United States and France held new talks Tuesday on deadlocked efforts to agree to a UN resolution calling for a halt to the Israel-Hezbollah war ahead of a UN meeting on the conflict, diplomats said.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 8, 2006 (AFP) - The United States and France held new talks Tuesday on deadlocked efforts to agree to a UN resolution calling for a halt to the Israel-Hezbollah war ahead of a UN meeting on the conflict, diplomats said.

Both say they will consider changing their draft resolution and the talks have been made more urgent by a Lebanese government offer to deploy 15,000 troops in southern Lebanon if Israeli forces withdraw.

France traditionally has influence in Lebanon, while the United States is the main Israeli ally.

US ambassador John Bolton and his French counterpart Jean-Marc de La Sablière held new negotiations before an Arab League ministerial delegation was to set out objections to the French-US text at a UN Security Council debate, a diplomat said.

The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the talks were "moderately encouraging."

"I would like the discussions underway in New York to take this essential new element into account, in order to secure the rapid adoption of a resolution," France's Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said of the Lebanese offer.

Israel has described the troop proposal as "an interesting step" and said it was studying it.

Lebanon has objected to the French-US text because there is no explicit call for Israeli troops to leave Lebanon after any ceasefire starts.

It announced the plan to send troops to southern Lebanon on Monday.

Arab League chief Amr Mussa, Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan were to put Lebanon's case at a Security Council public debate on the Middle East.

Meanwhile Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Beirut on a mission to drum up support for the draft resolution, which also seeks to lay the basis for sending an international force to Lebanon.

With the conflict now four weeks old, leaders from around the world have called for the speedy passing of a resolution. But diplomats said nothing would be passed by the Security Council before Wednesday, at the earliest.

Lebanon, supported by the Arab League, has demanded that the resolution be amended to call for Israeli troops to leave southern Lebanon as soon as hostilities end.

It also wants a stronger reference to the disputed Shebaa Farms region, which is held by Israel.

Douste-Blazy said Monday that these concerns should be taken into account.

The United States has appeared more reluctant to change the text.

But US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was expected at the United Nations at some stage of discussions, said on Monday: "We're going to listen to the concerns of the parties and see how they might be addressed."

The current draft "calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations."

It also sets out conditions for an international force to be sent to Lebanon, but a second resolution will be needed to set out a mandate, which could delay the deployment of any force.

Qatar, the only Arab member of the Security Council, has proposed amendments requested by Lebanon that would seek an Israeli withdrawal.

The current text only demands respect for the Blue Line, the unofficial frontier between Israel and Lebanon.  

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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