Slow progress in Lebanon diplomacy efforts

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Slow progress in Lebanon diplomacy efforts

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The diplomatic process to try to stop the fighting in the Middle East grinds slowly on. US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch met Lebanese leaders in Beirut as part of the effort to persuade Lebanon and Israel to agree on the terms of a UN security council resolution.

With the same mission, the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Israel’s Defence Minister, Amir Peretz, in Jerusalem. The EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana also plans to visit the Middle East later this week.

The US is objecting to amendments proposed by the Lebanese government and the Arab League to the draft UN resolution, but French President Jacques Chirac believes those objections can be overcome. Chirac said: “I can’t imagine that there would be no solution because that would mean – which would be the most immoral result – that we accept the current situation and that we abandon an immediate ceasefire.”

The Lebanese government, with the backing of other Arab countries, has rejected the draft UN proposal because, even though it called for a full cessation of hostilities, it did not demand an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the country. Also at issue is what kind of international force should be formed and when it should be deployed in southern Lebanon. As the diplomatic wrangling continues a vote on the resolution is not expected to take place before Thursday.