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Rome Conference Agrees to Work Toward Immediate Israel-Lebanon Cease-Fire


Diplomats from several countries have agreed to work toward a cease-fire to end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

But they do not have a specific plan to stop the violence.

The diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, met Wednesday in Rome. She said any cease-fire must be sustainable and that Lebanon must be sovereign and free of militias.

Rice and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also said the solution must involve Syria and Iran. They are key backers of Hezbollah.

Mr. Annan called for a multinational force to help the Lebanese government assert its authority. Rice said world powers will soon discuss establishing a force to deploy in southern Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora says progress was made at the talks. He says there is a lot to be done in the near future in order to reach a cease-fire and allow the Lebanese government to exert its authority across the country.

Top representatives of 18 Arab and Western nations and international organizations attended the one-day meeting. Italy and the United States were its co-chairs.

About 400 Lebanese and almost 50 Israelis have died in the fighting since July 12.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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