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World moves slowly to defuse crisis
by Daily Star, Lebanon (reposted)
Monday Jul 17th, 2006 6:40 PM
BEIRUT: French President Jacques Chirac on Monday backed the idea of an international force to restore order in Lebanon and described Israel's offensive as "aberrant," as his premier paid an emergency visit to the Lebanese capital. Echoing Chirac's comments, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin urged Hizbullah and Israel to join in a cease-fire and proposed dispatching international monitors to southern Lebanon as part of a settlement to end the bloodshed.
De Villepin's visit is part of diplomatic efforts to end the fighting, as world powers moved to give teeth to the proposed international force for Lebanon.

Following a summit of leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations, Chirac said that "some means of coercion" may be needed to enforce UN Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarmament of Hizbullah and other militia in Lebanon.

"The application of 1559 is the essential element, and this will probably require some means of coercion," Chirac said.

He said that Israel's attacks on Lebanon had created a "dramatic situation" which would require major reconstruction of Lebanon's infrastructure and had hit ordinary Lebanese.

"This unfortunate population ... is bearing the consequences of behavior which is both violent and aberrant," Chirac said.

"Lebanon's integrity, independence and sovereignty must be recognized," he added.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the idea of the new military observer force at the G8 summit, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair appearing to back the idea. Russian President Vladimir Putin also indicated Moscow might join in if UN approval were secured.

During a joint news conference with his Lebanese counterpart, Fouad Siniora, De Villepin said a team of international observers should be placed along the frontier to oversee any deal.

"France has proposed sending a monitoring mission which could be deployed or assist the Lebanese government to spread its authority over [its territory] and provide guarantees," he said.

Chirac backed the idea but said it the democratically elected Lebanese government must be allowed to re-establish control over the country.

by UK Guardian (reposted)
Monday Jul 17th, 2006 6:49 PM
Western leaders remained paralysed yesterday as Lebanon suffered one of its bloodiest days since Israel began its bombardment a week ago.

For the second time in 48 hours western governments declined to intervene as Israeli forces, on the sixth day of aerial attacks, killed 47 people and wounded at least 53. Hizbullah, the Iranian-backed militia, also stepped up its attacks, launching 50 rockets against Israel, the highest number in a single day. The death toll since Israel began its attack has risen to 210 in Lebanon and 29 in Israel.

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, dismissed hopes of a quick resolution to the conflict last night, vowing his military would continue operating at full intensity. He said Israel would not stop until two of its captured soldiers were freed, the Lebanese army deployed to protect Israel's northern border and Hizbullah forced to disarm.

He said both Hizbollah and Hamas, the Palestinian group, were working with the support of "the axis of evil that stretches from Tehran to Damascus. When missiles rain on our cities, our response will be to wage war with greater determination, courage and sacrifice," he said. "We don't seek war or head-on confrontation but if necessary we shall not flinch from them."