VARIOUS: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that it is vital the international community devise a...
- Title: VARIOUS: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that it is vital the international community devise a plan for Lebanon as U.S. Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice sets tough terms for Lebanon ceasefire
- Date: 25th July 2006
- Summary: (BN12) UNITED NATIONS (FILE) (REUTERS) PRESS
- Reuters ID: LVAEAFADV7VVB7JCAO4AYY7C0RFQ
- Duration: 00:00:04
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: War / Fighting
- Story Text: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday (July 24) that it is vital the international community devise a plan for Lebanon at Wednesday's (July 26) conference in Rome.
Annan is due to leave Monday afternoon for the conference which is expected to formulate plans for a cease-fire in the Middle East crisis, as well as a possible deployment of foreign troops.
"What is important is that we leave Rome with a concrete strategy as to how we are going to deal with this and we don't not walk away empty-handed and once again dash the hopes of those who are caught in this conflict," said Annan.
Last week, Annan called for a bigger, better armed and more robust international force to stabilise southern Lebanon and buy time for the Lebanese government to disarm Hizbollah guerrillas. But on Monday he said that while a military force would play an important role, it cannot replace the need for political developments.
"A force alone will not do it. You cannot disarm Hizbollah by force, there has to be a political agreement and a political understanding. There has to be an understanding amongst the Lebanese and we have to help them come to that understanding. We need to encourage leaders in the region with leverage to also help and this why last Friday I indicated that I would expect Iran and Syria to be part of the solution," said Annan.
In the absence of a cease-fire deal, a quick end to the fighting would open the door to longer-term diplomatic efforts while reducing civilian casualties and helping relief workers reach people in need of food, medicines and other urgent aid.
But the White House said that an immediate cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Hizbollah in southern Lebanon would be "unenforceable".
"I think the notion that you have a cease-fire at this point is unenforceable and does not really get us to the point we need to be at," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.
Snow also told reporters that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is in the region, would announce a "significant U.S. commitment in terms of humanitarian aid" to the Lebanese people caught up in the conflict.
"Humanitarian supplies will start arriving in Lebanon tomorrow by helicopter and by ship," he said.
Rice made an unannounced visit to bombed-out Beirut in a dramatic show of support for the Lebanese government. She travelled by helicopter from nearby Cyprus under heavy security and chose the epicentre of the conflict with Israel to launch her Middle East trip aimed at averting full-scale war across the region.
After meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the head of Lebanon's first anti-Syrian government in nearly two decades, Rice also met with the speaker of parliament and a range of political leaders to discuss solutions to the crisis.
There were no plans to meet with Hizbollah, which has been involved in intense fighting with Israeli forces for nearly two weeks, resulting in the deaths of 372 in Lebanon and an Israeli death toll of 37.
A Lebanese source said she had insisted Hizbollah free two Israeli soldiers and pull back from the border before any ceasefire.
"Rice is putting the Lebanese government in a very embarrassing situation," said the Hizbollah MP, Ali Moqtad, "which means it's suggesting the policy of what I don't want to call stick and carrot but artillery and carrot. In one hand holding the artillery with which it will strike Lebanon if it doesn't disarm Hizbollah and implement U.N. Security Council resolution 1559 and in the other hand holds the reward for doing so. I believe that this is Rice's project but I can assure you that if this is the project it will absolutely fail at the end."
While Rice was making the diplomatic rounds, protesters took to the streets. A crowd gathered outside the building where Rice met with Shi'ite Muslim Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Holding banners against the bombardment and chanting slogans in support of Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, protesters said they had a few questions for the U.S. Secretary of State.
Rice will then move on to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
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