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UN calls for peace as fighting continues
The United Nations security council has passed a resolution calling for an international peace-keeping force to be deployed in south Lebanon to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.
Leaders of Lebanon and Israel have urged their governments to accept the proposal which was passed on Friday night, although fighting looks set to continue at least until the end of the weekend.
"Lebanon has been a victim for too long," Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, said.
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said that the UN text should "open a path to lasting peace between Lebanon and Israel that will end the suffering and violence of this past month."
Although the Israeli prime minister endorsed the resolution, he also authorized the Israeli army to continue to expand its ground offensive against Hezbollah before his cabinet votes on the resolution on Sunday.
The unanimous vote in New York ended weeks of negotiations to end fighting which has killed at least 1,000 people since Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.
The resolution approved by the 15-nation Security Council now authorises the deployment of 15,000 UN troops to monitor a withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon and to help the Lebanese army enforce a ceasefire.
The Lebanese government accepted the resolution and would issue a formal acceptance on Saturday, an official source said late Friday.
Ehud Olmert told US President George W. Bush he backed the resolution, an Israeli government official said.
"The prime minister spoke with President Bush and thanked him for his assistance in keeping Israeli interests in mind at the Security Council," the official said.
Olmert will urge his cabinet to approve the U.N. resolution at a meeting on Sunday.
An Israeli official said before the vote, however, the Israeli army would not stop its offensive in Lebanon until the cabinet met on Sunday to consider the resolution.
Earlier, Olmert ordered an expansion in the ground offensive against Hezbollah.