Rice admits UN resolution won’t stop fighting

By Steve Holland

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cautioned on Sunday that a U.N. resolution would not stop all the fighting in southern Lebanon, calling it a first step toward a lasting cessation of violence.

Rice, in Crawford to consult with President George W. Bush about the Middle East crisis, told reporters it was important to get a vote on the U.N. resolution in the next day or two.

Bush will make a statement about the U.N. resolution at 10 a.m. EST on Monday from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he is vacationing, a White House spokesman said.

He will be joined by Rice.

U.N. Security Council envoys are attempting to put the finishing touches on a resolution drafted by France and the United States calling for a halt to fighting between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas and setting terms for a settlement.

Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley said a vote could come on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

But disagreements that surfaced on Sunday at the Security Council appeared to have prevented envoys from taking the measure to a vote before Tuesday.

If that resolution can be quickly voted on, Rice said, "I would hope that you would see very early on an end to large-scale violence."

That does not necessarily mean an end to all fighting in the short run because "these things take a while to wind down," and there could be skirmishes for some time to come, she said.

"We’re trying to deal with a problem that has been festering and brewing in Lebanon now for years and years and years. So it’s not going to be solved by one resolution in the Security Council," Rice said.

Cautionary comments from Rice and Hadley that a halt to the violence will not be instantaneous reflected recognition that with Israel and Hizbollah on a hair trigger, some attacks are likely to continue.

Hadley said it was important to complete work in days, not weeks, on a second resolution establishing an international force for Lebanon that would help the Lebanese army move into areas now controlled by the Hizbollah militia.


He could not predict how quickly the force would be able to deploy once authorized, but said: "Obviously as soon after that as the force can move, the better."

Israel has refused to withdraw its 10,000 troops until an international force enters south Lebanon and France and others do not want to send in soldiers while fighting rages.

Bush, on a 10-day working vacation at his ranch, spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Tony Blair about the diplomatic negotiations, the White House said.

Lebanon is unhappy with the draft resolution, partly because it lacks a call for the withdrawal from Lebanon of Israeli forces. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Sunday that Lebanon rejected the resolution as biased.

Hadley said it would be up to the Lebanese government to pressure Hizbollah guerrillas to lay down their arms, and that Hizbollah backers Iran and Syria should use their influence to get the Shi’ite militia to halt attacks.

"It’s really going to be the Lebanese government that is going to have to set out and accept the arrangement on behalf of the Lebanese people," Hadley said.

In violence sparked July 12 by a Hizbollah incursion into Israel that captured two Israeli soldiers, more than 700 Lebanese and nearly 90 Israelis have been killed.

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have been forced from their homes while many residents of northern Israel have left or spend much of their time in shelters.

© 2006 Reuters