Security Council to review French ceasefire plan

3rd August 2006, Comments 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 3, 2006 (AFP) - France has distributed a new draft resolution on the Middle East crisis, which was to be discussed on Thursday at a UN Security Council meeting, diplomats said.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 3, 2006 (AFP) - France has distributed a new draft resolution on the Middle East crisis, which was to be discussed on Thursday at a UN Security Council meeting, diplomats said.

The new French text, obtained by AFP, is only slightly changed from the version it distributed to the Security Council on Sunday.

It still calls for an "immediate cessation of hostilities" but also demands "full respect" of the Blue Line, the unofficial frontier between Israel and Lebanon, by both sides.

It calls on Israel to hand over to the United Nations the maps of landmines it has left in southern Lebanon and for the implementation of a 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Lebanon.

The Security Council was scheduled to discuss the Middle East at a meeting on Thursday morning.

It was not immediately known whether the new French proposition addressed US concerns about how to settle the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, which has left hundreds dead since July 12.

The United States, France and other major powers have been involved in intense discussions on how the Security Council should address the crisis.

The United States and Britain have said that differences over a UN resolution are now so small that a motion could be passed within days.

A Security Council resolution on the conflict has been held up by whether international peacekeepers should move in before an outline of a political settlement between Israel, Hezbollah and the Lebanese government has been arranged.

France has drafted a resolution calling for: 1. a cessation of hostilities, 2. a political settlement, and 3. an international force.

According to diplomats, the US administration wants: 1. a cessation of hostilities, 2. an international force, and 3. a political settlement.

While the delay goes on, Israel has stepped up its offensive in southern Lebanon and Hezbollah has fired rockets deeper into Israeli territory.

Three weeks of conflict has left more than 820 Lebanese and 50 Israelis dead. Mounting international calls for a ceasefire have increased pressure on the UN Security Council to act.

The United States, which has refused to back calls for an immediate ceasefire, and the other major powers have also been discussing what kind of force should be sent to Lebanon.

The US ambassador has said there could be two forces: one sent as an immediate buffer force and a second with a more long-term mission.

France, which is considered a probable leader of the international force, had already refused to attend Thursday's meeting because there was no agreement on a political accord.

"France believes that the conditions for the force's deployment have not been met, and so this meeting is premature," French foreign ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said in Paris.

France, which is a key contributor to the current UN Interim Force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), insists that a political settlement must be in place to give any international force a proper mandate to police.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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