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Middle East: Rice says ceasefire possible this week

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Middle East: Rice says ceasefire possible this week


Wrapping up her second peace mission to the Middle East in a week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she believed a ceasefire could be forged this week. “This morning, as I head back to Washington I take with me an emerging consensus on what is necessary for both an urgent ceasefire and a lasting settlement,” said Rice.

“I am convinced we can achieve both this week and I am convinced that only by achieving both will the Lebanese people finally be able to control their country and their future.”

France, too, has presented a draft resolution which calls for an international stabilisation force to be deployed, but only once Israel and Lebanon have “agreed in principle” on a framework for a permanent ceasefire. This is to be discussed in the coming days by the United Nations Security Council.

While it expressed “extreme shock and distress” at the Qana attack, the Council’s failure to call for an immediate truce on Sunday caused anger in Lebanon where protestors stormed the United Nations offices in the capital Beirut.

Secretary General Kofi Annan will preside over a meeting of possible contributors to the international force in New York later on Monday.

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