France-US rift expands over Lebanon resolution

9th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 9, 2006 (AFP) - The United States and France battled Wednesday to overcome a rift on how to make a UN call for an end to Middle East hostilities after strong Arab demands that Israel withdraw from Lebanon.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 9, 2006 (AFP) - The United States and France battled Wednesday to overcome a rift on how to make a UN call for an end to Middle East hostilities after strong Arab demands that Israel withdraw from Lebanon.

The French and US ambassadors to the United Nations held new talks on a draft Security Council resolution but again failed to reach accord on how to word a call for ceasefire and any Israeli pullout, diplomats said.

US ambassador John Bolton acknowledged that there are "disagreements" and "areas of uncertainty", but insisted both sides were working hard to draw up a new resolution.

Officials said a Security Council vote on the resolution was now unlikely before Friday.

France's President Jacques Chirac has hinted that his country may present its own resolution if there is no agreement with the United States.

"It seems indeed that there are American reservations towards adopting the proposal," Chirac said of the Lebanese demands for amendments to the French-US text.

Beirut's demands for an Israeli withdrawal from its territory and its plan to send 15,000 Lebanese troops to take control of Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon have caused the new split between the transatlantic allies.

Bolton indicated however that the United States, Israel's main ally, remains concerned about how to disarm and keep Hezbollah fighters out of positions to launch attacks on Israel.

He told reporters "everybody wants to see this (resolution) used to transform the situation in the region, which means fundamentally that we don't want Hezbollah to reinfiltrate the southern part of Lebanon."

Bolton added: "The question remains how to have an effective security presence in the southern part of Lebanon as the Israeli forces withdraw, when that becomes appropriate, and how you put that together, how you arrange that politically, how that becomes part of the overall transformation of Lebanon."

"Positions have changed; there are new circumstances unquestionably that do have an effect," said Bolton. "But it doesn't change the basic objective that we have and we are struggling now to make sure that the first resolution goes as far as we can to accomplish those objectives."

The US ambassador said the Lebanese offer to deploy troops was "significant" and that it would be taken into account in the new draft, but did not say how.

Speaking of the talks with France, Bolton said: "The disagreements, the areas of uncertainty, are things that we are working very hard on and I don't think a purpose would be served exposing all of them in public."

France and the United States face strong Arab resistance to their current draft text which does not specifically call for an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon after any end to hostilities.

An Arab League delegation warned the Security Council on Tuesday there would be civil war in Lebanon if Israel's troops did not leave. More than four weeks into conflict, the Arab ministers also criticised the delay in Security Council action.

"It is most saddening that this council stands idly by, crippled and unable to stop the bloodbath, which has become the bitter daily lot of the unarmed Lebanese people," Qatar's foreign minister told a special council debate on the conflict.

"If we adopt a resolution without fully considering the reality of Lebanon, we will face a civil war and, instead of helping Lebanon, we will destroy Lebanon," added the minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani.

Israel's UN ambassador Dan Gillerman told the Security Council there has to be a "strong, robust and effective international force" in southern Lebanon to counter Hezbollah.

He also called for international action to stop Iran and Syria — which he called "the merchants of terror in Damascus and Tehran" — from supplying arms to Hezbollah.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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