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Israeli Foreign Minister Urges International Community to Act Fast


Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says U.N. resolution 1701, aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, needs to be implemented quickly so that a new era can begin in Lebanon. Livni was speaking in Rome following a meeting with her Italian counterpart Massimo d'Alema, who confirmed Italy's commitment the the implementation of the resolution.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said a window of opportunity exists now to change the rules of the game in Lebanon. Israel and Lebanon do not have a conflict and the interests of both their governments are the same as those of the international community.

"About two weeks after resolution 1701 was adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations there is a need of a full and quick implementation of Resolution 1701 and maybe… and I believe that this can be a window of opportunity for the new era in Lebanon," Livni said.

Livni, who was speaking in Rome following a meeting with Foreign Minister Massimo d'Alema, said Israel wants to help the international community implement the United Nations resolution. She said it is not only the Israeli and Lebanese public that are watching this closely.

"We are being watched also by extremists who want to put the region in flames and this is also the test of the international community, a test for the determination of the international community," she said.

For his part, the Italian foreign minister expressed the hope that the deployment of international troops in South Lebanon would allow the area to again become part of a sovereign Lebanon.

D'Alema confirmed Italy's commitment for a full application of the resolution, including the deployment of an international force in Southern Lebanon and a strong commitment on the political and humanitarian fronts as well as for the reconstruction of the country.

Minister D'Alema said Italy is ready to contribute on these different fronts to the effort to resolve the conflict and open a new season of peace and collaboration in the region.

The Italian foreign minister also said that the success of the international initiative in Lebanon is important for the return of credibility to the efforts of the international community. If this credibility will be obtained in the field, he added, this will help in the search for solutions to the conflict in the Middle East and guarantee Israel the security, which it has a right to.

Italy has said it would be willing to lead the peace mission and has so far pledged the largest contingent for the force, offering to send in up to three thousand troops. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said in a statement Thursday Italy had won the U.S. blessing to lead the U.N. force.

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