French FM heads to UN to seek Lebanon deal

11th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 11, 2006 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy left Friday for the United Nations to try to secure agreement on a resolution on Lebanon, saying he was determined to push for a rapid end to hostilities.

PARIS, Aug 11, 2006 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy left Friday for the United Nations to try to secure agreement on a resolution on Lebanon, saying he was determined to push for a rapid end to hostilities.

Douste-Blazy, who left at around 1200 GMT, was expected in New York along with several of his counterparts, to "try to secure a rapid agreement on a draft resolution on the Middle East crisis", the foreign ministry said.

Speaking in the southern city of Marseille earlier Friday, Douste-Blazy told reporters: "At this point every hour counts."

"We are going to New York with the idea of moving towards a cessation of hostilities as soon as possible, but also to secure a ceasefire agreement, the only durable solution."

France and the United States have been deadlocked over the wording of a new UN resolution, after an earlier draft was rejected by Lebanon and Arab leaders.

The United States has been backing Israel's demand that its troops remain in southern Lebanon until an international force arrives, fearing that Hezbollah militias could retake control of the border zone.

France had wanted a resolution to incorporate Lebanese demands that Israeli troops leave as soon as fighting stops, but Wednesday it proposed Israel be allowed to carry out a phased withdrawal once a truce is reached.

"France remains determined to find a solution for an immediate end to hostilities... We call on all countries to stop their hostilities," Douste-Blazy said.

"Nothing can allow the destruction of Lebanon," he said.

He called on both Israel and Hezbollah militias to "respect international law, and not to target civilians and humanitarian convoys" — describing recent attacks on aid convoys in Lebanon as "inadmissible".

More than 2,000 tonnes of French aid — food and medical supplies — were to leave the port of Marseille for Lebanon on board a cargo ship later Friday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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