Wednesday, July 26, 2006

UPDATE: Rome Conference on Israel-Hezbollah War

International leaders met in Rome and discussed the Israel-Hezbollah war. Hezbollah was not mentioned specifically by name in official statements, but came up later in questions.

There was no consensus among the leaders, who included Lebanese Prime Minister Seniora, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema and US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

The Italian FM called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Kofi Annan stressed the need for humanitarian aid and an immediate cease fire. The Lebanese Prime Minister stressed Israel's role in the "occupation" of territories and insinuated that Israel used the kidnapping of its soldiers as an excuse for a pre-planned invasion and re-occupation of Lebanon.

Only US Secretary of State Rice stressed the need for a cease fire that will NOT create a return to the status quo.

Kofi Annan, answering a question about his accusation that Israel deliberately attacked the UNIFL forces, qualified his statement with the word "apparent" but stressed that all UN locations were known to Israeli forces, an insulation that Israel knew what it was doing. He was also asked if his accusations affect his abilities as an honest peace-broker, but did not answer that question.

As well, the Lebanese Prime Minister made certain demands for a cease fire, including the release of prisoners, military maps from Israel and the relinquishing of "occupied territory".

These demands were not challenged by any of those calling for an unconditional and immediate cessation of hostilities.


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