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France, US Agree on a UN Ceasefire Resolution in Lebanon

France and the United States have presented the U.N. Security Council with a draft resolution aimed at ending the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Diplomats from the two nations were huddled together for days trying to iron out differences to come up with a resolution both could support, working up until just hours before the Security Council meeting Saturday.

They agree on political aspects of the resolution, but were divided over whether to deploy international troops before or after a ceasefire. The United States sought to delay calls for a ceasefire until after troops were on the ground in a buffer zone in southern Lebanon. But France wanted a ceasefire first.

French ambassador Jean Marc de la Sabliere told reporters the draft resolution they have negotiated calls for an cessation of hostilities leading to a permanent ceasefire. "First the text calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and immediate cessation of Israel a by all offensive military operations. This is very important for the people in Lebanon. They have been suffering and also for the people in the northern part of Israel," he said.

Once the fighting stops, the draft calls for an immediate opening of Lebanon's airports and harbors and international assistance to help more than 700,000 displaced Lebanese return to their homes.

De la Sabliere says the resolution calls on Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and agree on a long-term solution based on the territorial integrity of both nations, respect for the borders of Lebanon and the disarmament of all armed groups. "We cannot go back to status quo," he said. "Who could imagine that such a drama could happen again? It would be irresponsible. So we have to take the opportunity to help the parties find a lasting solution so the text addresses a permanent ceasefire."

De la Sabiere called the initial reaction of members to the new text encouraging. But some Arab diplomats raised objections because the resolution does not deal with Israeli forces now in Lebanon or territorial disputes clearly enough. An experts meeting to clarify such issues followed the Security Council discussion and another is scheduled for Sunday.