US, France agree UN Lebanon text


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

US, France agree UN Lebanon text

The US and France have agreed the wording of a UN resolution to end the fighting
between Israel and Hezbollah.

It calls for a "full cessation of hostilities", demanding that Hezbollah halt 
all attacks and Israel stop all offensive military operations.

A BBC correspondent at the UN says the wording would allow Israel some freedom 
if it argues it needs to defend itself.

The UN Security Council has held initial consultations on the draft. Israel has 
so far reacted cautiously.

US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said the Security Council meeting on 
Saturday was "very productive".

"We received a lot of encouraging comments on the draft text," he said, adding 
that member states needed to send it back to their capitals to seek instruction.

Meanwhile the violence has continued, with Israeli commandos clashing with 
Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon.

The Israeli army said eight soldiers had been wounded and several militants were
killed in the raid on an apartment in Tyre suspected of housing Hezbollah 
fighters in the city.

Hezbollah has continued to fire rockets into northern Israel - about 170 were 
fired on Saturday. Three women were killed in an attack in the mainly Arab 
village of Arab al-Aramshe.


The draft resolution follows weeks of disagreement over the precise wording of a
call to end the violence in Lebanon.

Mr Bolton said the text did not include a requirement for an immediate cessation
of hostilities.

But it does call for "the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and 
the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military actions".

The draft - sent to all 15 member states in the Security Council - also calls 
for the current UN force in Lebanon to monitor any cessation in fighting.

Lebanon's initial reaction was to express reservations. A Lebanese envoy to the 
UN, Nouhad Mahmoud, said: "We would have liked to see our concerns more 
reflected in the text."

He said the text lacked a call for Israeli forces in Lebanon to withdraw. "That 
is a recipe for more confrontation," he said.

Israeli cabinet minister Isaac Herzog called the text an "important 

He said military operations would continue "in the coming days, but we have to 
know that the timetable is becoming increasingly shorter".

Swift passage of the resolution seems likely, says the BBC's James Robbins at 
the UN in New York, and a formal vote could come as soon as Monday.

Foreign ministers are expected to come to New York for that vote, to give 
maximum weight to a call to all sides to stop fighting and work for a long-term 
political settlement, our correspondent adds.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed news of the agreement, calling it "an 
absolutely vital first step in bringing this tragic crisis to an end".

The White House said President George W Bush was "happy with the progress being 

Aid warning

As the violence on the ground continues, the Israeli army has warned residents 
in the Lebanese city of Sidon to stay away from rocket launching sites.

In other developments:

€  Israeli carried out a commando raid on Tyre, which Hezbollah said it had 
repelled. Lebanon says one of its soldiers died during the raid

€  Hezbollah fired more missiles at the northern Israeli city of Haifa in 
retaliation, wounding five people

€  An Israeli soldier died after coming under Hezbollah mortar fire in the 
eastern village of Taibeh

€  US envoy David Welch held talks in Beirut with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad 
Siniora and Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri, the leader of the Shia Amal
movement and a possible conduit to Hezbollah

€  Thousands marched in London, UK, calling for an immediate ceasefire in 

Aid agencies have warned of difficulties in delivering supplies to hundreds of 
thousands of people displaced by the fighting, after four bridges on the main 
coastal highway north from Beirut were destroyed on Friday.

"Now the main highway is bombed we have a major, major setback... it's like a de
facto blockade at the moment," Astrid van Genderen Stort, spokeswoman for the UN
refugee agency told the BBC.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/08/05 23:32:56 GMT


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