Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blair sees UN resolution soon

By Katherine Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday he hoped for agreement within the next few days on a United Nations resolution aimed at bringing about an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hizbollah.

"I'm now hopeful we will have such a resolution down very shortly and agreed within the next few days. The purpose of that will be to bring about an immediate ceasefire and then put in place the conditions for the international force to come in in support of the Lebanese government," he told a news conference.

Calling it a "very critical time", Blair said differences over the U.N. Security Council resolution were very slight.

The United States and France are working on an initial U.N. resolution that would call for a truce in the three-week-old war between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah, which Beirut says has killed 900 people and wounded 3,000 others.

Blair, who has been heavily involved in the negotiations, said he believed there should be "a suspension of offensive operations" once the resolution was passed.

Israel has been insisting on the right to take "defensive action" against Hizbollah fighters launching attacks against troops or civilians during a truce, diplomats say.

Blair said U.N. Security Council members were not contemplating sending in two peacekeeping forces to southern Lebanon -- a smaller force immediately and a larger one later.

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