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Arab League Wants UN to Press for Withdrawal of Israeli Troops from Lebanon

A delegation from the League of Arab Nations has met with the U.N. Security Council to push for revisions to the U.S.-French draft resolution aimed at a truce in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. From New York, VOA correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports talks will continue Wednesday.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr-Al-Thani, speaking for the delegation, warned the Council against adopting a non-enforceable resolution that would have grave repercussions throughout the Middle East, sowing seeds of hate that terrorists can use as a pretext for violence.

The Arab League is pushing for a series of amendments to the draft resolution presented by Lebanon to Arab foreign ministers Monday, including a call for an immediate ceasefire and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon.

After the Security Council meeting, Lebanon's special envoy Tareq Mitri expressed disappointment at the pace of talks.

"We have been talking to various members of the U.N. Security Counci," he said. "Those remarks, proposals, suggestions of ours have been heard by many, but yet, we have not reached a point where we can with confidence say that they have been taken on board by the two members of the Council who are drafting the resolution."

Mitri said Lebanon is ready to deploy 15,000 troops to work with an expanded U.N. force to take over southern Lebanon from Hezbollah forces.

Israeli U.N. ambassador Dan Gillerman said the meeting served little purpose. He said Israeli troops will pull out of southern Lebanon the minute there is a political solution and a viable multinational force is in place.

"We have had a U.N. blue-helmeted force in the region for 28 years," he said. "Just to remind you, it is called United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. This Interim Force has taken 28 years in which that force has been totally impotent and incapable in preventing any of the terror activities which have happened in our region. I think it should be a robust, professional, effective force. A blue-helmeted force has been tried for 28 years and obviously failed."

France and the United States reached agreement on the draft resolution Saturday and the Council had hoped to vote on it early in the week. But the Council delayed formal consideration to listen to the concerns of the Arab League. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa says the delegation will continue consultations with Security Council members Wednesday to try to come up with a resolution that is acceptable to Arab members.