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US: Security Council Close to Agreement on Lebanon

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton says the U.N. Security Council is "near agreement" on the fundamentals of a political framework for Lebanon, despite differences over a cease-fire.

Bolton says Council members are working to resolve differences over a resolution to call for a truce in fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, and enhance U.N. peacekeepers until an international force is sent. The resolution also calls for disarming Hezbollah. But the diplomats are divided over the sequence of events.

France insists that a cease-fire precede any deployment of an international force, a position the 25-member European Union supports.

The United States wants peacekeeping troops in place first, saying the troops will be needed to enforce a cease-fire and any political agreements and disarm Hezbollah. Bolton says the diplomats are in intense discussions to bridge the gap.

"There are differences in approach to the nature of the cessation of hostilities and how to make it permanent, but there is near-complete agreement on the fundamental political framework that has to be put in place," he said. "We have been making progress on that here in New York and the exchanges between capitals, and I think that is really significant because it underlines the fundamental notion that we do not want to see a return to the status quo ante."

The United Nations has postponed a scheduled meeting of troop contributing nations twice this week. France is expected to lead the international force.