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Divisions laid bare over possibility of ceasefire

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Divisions laid bare over possibility of ceasefire


Hopes of brokering a ceasefire agreement are still alive within the Lebanese government. As President Emile Lahoud led a crisis cabinet meeting yesterday, officials said contact was being made with Hizbollah in an effort to end hostilities. “There is a continuous quest for a comprehensive ceasefire,” said Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. “We still have hope, but we don’t underestimate the difficulties.” Those sentiments were echoed by Italy’s foreign minister Massimo D’Alema, who will co-chair a meeting of foreign ministers in Rome later this week with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Neither Washington nor Germany are seeking an immediate ceasefire. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the priority is to stop the conflict from spreading to other parts of the Middle East. “We can’t let terrorism set the agenda,” he said. “We’re trying to create the right circumstances to help stop the violence within a political framework.”

Rice, who heads to Israel and the Palestinian territories today, says an immediate ceasefire would produce what she called a “false promise” which would allow Hizbollah to re-emerge.

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