Lebanon ceasefire aroundthe corner: Foreign Minister

4th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Aug 4, 2006 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he believes "more than ever" that a durable ceasefire between Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel will be in place soon.

LONDON, Aug 4, 2006 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he believes "more than ever" that a durable ceasefire between Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel will be in place soon.

Interviewed by BBC television Thursday, Douste-Blazy declined to give a date for a truce as Paris and Washington worked to narrow their differences at the United Nations over how to achieve a ceasefire in Lebanon.

However, he said: "We are working day and night so that a durable ceasefire can take place as soon as possible. I believe it, I believe it more than ever after my trip to the Near East, after coming back from Beirut two days ago."

The French, backed by fellow members of the European Union, have been pressing for an immediate cessation of fighting followed by a permanent ceasefire and a political deal that will involve disarming Hezbollah.

Only then would an international military force be deployed to help the Lebanese army gain effective control over southern Lebanon and prevent future Hezbollah attacks on Israel.

The United States has insisted all the elements be "intertwined" and that a ceasefire cannot be ordered until the achievement of a political agreement involving Lebanon, Hezbollah and Israel.

Douste-Blazy said France was ready to participate in a multinational force once a political agreement and durable ceasefire were in place. He also hoped moderate Arab countries would participate.

"We don't think there exists a purely military solution for disarming Hezbollah. Why? Because we realize today that the Israelis who know every inch of this part of the world are not doing so quickly, or easily."

"How do you want a foreign army, which does not know the terrain as well as the Israeli army, to succeed?" he asked.

"On the other hand, we believe that we can participate in an international force as soon as there is a political agreement, and especially when Hezbollah is disarmed," he said.

If there is no political agreement, he warned, it would "be putting our hand in an extremely dangerous trap. We don't want to experience an Iraqi-style situation."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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