United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will leave Israel this morning and will return to Washington. In a press conference held in Jerusalem, Rice called for the UN Security Council to act quickly and decisively in reaching a long term agreement between the sides this week.
Rice said she was satisfied with Israel’s decision to halt air strikes for 48 hours.
Rice said that the proposed settlement is based on assurances given to her by the parties and is founded on three principles: A cease fire, the proper political conditions for a long term agreement, and the establishment of a multinational force. “We are working on all three elements of the deal so the cease fire will be backed by a multinational force supported by a Security Council resolution.”
Rice added, “Today, as I return to Washington, I am taking with me a consensus regarding what is necessary to reach a long term accord and a cease fire. Lebanon, Israel, and the international community are in agreement that the Lebanese government must be able to exert is sovereignty on all of its territory. A multinational force is needed to stabilize the situation. There is an understanding that armed militias must be removed from that area (southern Lebanon) and an international embargo must be in place to prevent their rearmament.”
Rice said that she is pained by the harsh loss of life, especially of Israeli and Lebanese children. “Too many people have been taken from their homes, and too many people need assistance and are living in shelters.”
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