US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has given the White House’s perspective on the conflict in Lebanon. She ruled out a call from Washington for a ceasefire and said she would be travelling to the region at the weekend and attending an international conference in Rome on Wednesday. “A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo, allowing terrorists to launch attacks at the time and the terms of their choosing, and to threaten innocent people, Arab and Israeli, throughout the region. That would be a guarantee of future violence.”
Rice also spoke of an eventual peacekeeping force in the area. “It has to be a force robust enough to do the job, to make sure that the conditions in southern Lebanon are such that the reason for the violence has been dealt with and that is that southern Lebanon is used as a platform by Hezbollah to attack Israel.”
In Rome, Rice will meet officials from Lebanon and other Arab states in search of a permanent solution to the fighting. However there will be no representative of Syria, Iran or Israel present. Earlier, Rice was briefed at the United Nations
on a UN mission’s findings after its trip to the region.