The US President has resisted calls for an immediate ceasefire, saying his goal is sealing a long-lasting solution to the crisis. George Bush is to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who has said she believes a truce could be reached this week.
“Secretary Rice was in the region over the week-end, and she is working urgently to get a sustainable ceasefire, a ceasefire which will last. We are going to work with our allies to bring before the UN Security Council the resolution that will end the violence and lay the groundwork for a lasting peace in the Middle East,” said Bush. Since Qana, there is renewed intensity to the international drive to find a way out of the bloodshed. France’s foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy is in Lebanon. He may have ruffled US feathers urging Iran to be part of peace efforts.
Douste-Blazy described Tehran as a significant and respected actor in the Middle East playing a stabilising role. There had been hopes the UN would send a peace- keeping force to Lebanon – but a decision on that has been delayed indefinitely. In the meantime, the Security Council is to extend the term of its 2000-strong temporary force there for one more month.