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Security Council Chief Frustrated at Slow Cease-Fire Effort in Lebanon


U.N. Security Council President Nana Effah-Apenteng has expressed frustration at the slow pace of efforts to end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. U.N. officials also say the humanitarian situation in south Lebanon is deteriorating.

After private consultations to discuss the latest developments in Lebanon, Effah-Apenteng said meetings may continue during the weekend as French and U.S. diplomats try to resolve differences over a resolution calling for a truce. The Ghanaian ambassador, serving as this month's Council head, said members are trying to take action to stop the fighting, but there are factors beyond the Council's control.

"It is not easy to resolve all the difficulties and, therefore, we are giving the parties as much leeway as possible," he said. "The Americans and French, who are taking the lead in this issue, have to talk to the parties to the conflict, the Lebanese and then the Israelis, before they can agree on a package, so that is why there is so much delay in taking any concrete step."

The resolution calling for a truce has been stalled because France and the United States are divided over which should come first: a cease-fire or the deployment of international troops.

Effah-Apenteng also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Lebanon, asking the international community to be more generous in its response to a U.N. appeal for aid to Lebanon. U.N. officials say over 900,000 people have been displaced since the fighting began.

Meanwhile, U.N. spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi said reported Israeli shelling appears to have cut off the supply route used to deliver humanitarian aid to communities in south Lebanon.

"An assessment team is checking the road to see whether eight convoys can use it, but the convoy today has been canceled," he said. "Due to the bombardment of southern Beirut yesterday most of the truck drivers did not report to work this morning and another convoy to Tyre was also canceled."

Fawzi says U.N. officials have been in touch with Israeli authorities concerning the humanitarian situation but he would not detail the conversations.

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