Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met this week with foreign ministers of Belgium and France to discuss the implementation of UN resolution 1701, the inclusion of European troops in the multinational force, and the Iranian threat to the region.
During her visit to Paris yesterday, Foreign Minister Livni said that Iran is attempting to drag its feet and is not planning to stop enriching uranium. “Every day that passes brings Iran closer to the knowledge that will allow them to produce nuclear weapons. Iran is a global threat and the international community must deal with it,” Livni said.
During her discussions, which included French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Livni demanded that the international community enforce the arms embargo on Hizballah. “There has to be an effective embargo that will fulfill resolution 1701. The purpose is to see a democratic Lebanon free of armed militias. Lebanon needs one gun, one army, and one government. When this happens, there is a good chance we could live in peace in the region. I hope that the moderate elements will overpower the radical elements,” Livni said.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told Livni that President Chirac plans to increase the number of French troops it is sending, in addition to the 400 already allocated, but has not mentioned any numbers.
Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht told Livni that the Belgian government is considering sending a significant force to Lebanon, and the decision will be made during Friday’s Belgian Cabinet meeting.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will meet this Friday in Brussels with the Foreign Ministers of the European countries participating in the multinational force to expedite its formation and deployment.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke yesterday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and updated him on the discussions regarding the building of the international force and increasing its powers. Olmert told Rice that it is imperative that the resolution be fully implemented. “The quicker the force arrives, the sooner Israel will be able to lift the air and sea blockade on Lebanon.