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Chirac foresees end to UN impasse on Lebanon

Written by: Staff
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TOULON, France, Aug 9 (Reuters) French President Jacques Chirac said today he believed US objections could be overcome to amendments proposed by the Lebanese government and the Arab League to a draft UN resolution on Lebanon.

''It does seem that there is an American reservation about adopting this draft,'' Chirac told reporters after a meeting with members of his cabinet in the south of France.

''I can't imagine that there would be no solution because that would mean, which would be the most immoral result, that we accept the current situation and that we abandon an immediate ceasefire,'' he said. ''I can't imagine that of the Americans or anyone else.'' The comments came as diplomats work on revisions to a French and US-backed United Nations resolution to end the war.

The Lebanese government, backed by the Arab League, has rejected the draft UN proposal that called for full cessation of hostilities but did not demand an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the country.

''I think it's normal that we should take into consideration solutions envisaged in particular by parties to the conflict,'' Chirac said. ''We have to take account of them.'' He said that the original French and US-backed draft was a ''working base'' and that France had requested that it should incorporate ''a certain number'' of proposals put forward by the Arab League.

''If we don't manage it, there will obviously be a debate in the Security Council and everyone will present their position clearly, including of course France,'' he said.

A vote on the resolution may not take place before tomorrow as diplomatic wrangling continues and Israel considers whether to push its troops further into Lebanon to try to destroy Hizbollah infrastructure and curb the group's rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

It has proposed sending 15,000 of its own troops to establish state authority over southern Lebanon, the area bordering Israel that has been under the virtual control of the militant Hizbollah group.

The Lebanese army could be supported by a strengthened UN force to which France would be expected to make a significant contribution.

Around 1,000 Lebanese and more than 100 Israelis have been killed in four weeks of fighting, sparked when Hizbollah seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.

REUTERS DKA HS1729

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