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France Proposes Humanitarian Truce in Lebanon


French President Jacques Chirac has proposed what he calls a humanitarian truce in Lebanon to allow foreigners to evacuate and Lebanese civilians to flee Israeli bombardments.

Mr. Chirac, in a statement, also proposed humanitarian corridors through which civilians can flee and international aid can reach civilians.

In Geneva today, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it is expanding operations in Lebanon to stem a humanitarian crisis, while U.N. human rights chief Louise Arbour said civilian deaths in attacks in Lebanon, Israel, and the Palestinian territories could be war crimes.

In Jerusalem, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, called for an immediate ceasefire.

The U.N. special envoy on Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen, is urging the international community to decide quickly on a stabilization force for southern Lebanon.

The United States has been reluctant to support an immediate cease-fire. White House spokesman Tony Snow said today that the United States will not get involved in making military decisions for Israel.

U.N. envoy Roed-Larsen will meet with Secretary General Kofi Annan before Mr. Annan briefs the U.N. Security Council Thursday on the crisis. France also has proposed a Security Council resolution for a truce.

The U.N. says Mr. Annan, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and E.U. foreign policy chief Solana will meet in New York Thursday evening to discuss Lebanon.

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said today that Israel's offensive will not help secure the release of its captured soldiers. He said Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas should be encouraged to achieve their goals through the political process.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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