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France, US Consider Changes in Middle East Resolution Before Security Council Vote


France and the United States are revising their proposal for ending the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, and diplomats say the work is likely to delay a vote by the U.N. Security Council.

But differences between the two countries have emerged after an Arab League delegation argued on Tuesday that the Security Council should call for both an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon.

Today, French President Jacques Chirac said the U.S. is resisting some Arab proposals. He added that giving up on a ceasefire resolution would be an immoral solution. He warned that the fighting in Lebanon could destabilize the Middle East.

France is in favor of accommodating some Arab demands.

In Beirut, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch met with (Lebanese) Prime Minister Fouad Siniora today (Wednesday). After the meeting, Mr. Siniora told reporters there has been no progress on reaching a ceasefire.

Lebanon's government has offered to deploy 15 thousand troops to work with an expanded U.N. force in southern Lebanon, to patrol near the Israeli border.

At the United Nations, Qatar's foreign minister (Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani) told the Security Council Tuesday that adoption of a non-enforceable resolution would have, in his words, "grave ramifications" throughout the region.

The Qatari envoy, speaking for Arab League diplomats in New York, accused the council of standing idle during weeks of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations (Dan Gillerman) says his country's forces will pull out of southern Lebanon when there is a political solution and a viable multinational force in place.

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