French President Jacques Chirac says a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution on Lebanon is still being worked out, in part because of reservations from different quarters, including the United States. But he says the resolution must include a cease-fire.
Emerging from a meeting with his top Cabinet members in Toulon, President Chirac said it would be "immoral" to have a U.N. resolution that does not include a cease-fire as its key component.
Mr. Chirac said the wording proposed by France offers an immediate cease-fire as well security guarantees for the warring parties.
"Through a plan of resolutions within the (U.N.) Security Council, we have tabled options that offer the two parties political guarantees and security guarantees that are necessary," he said. "The first one consists of a complete and immediate cease-fire, cessation of hostilities, in any case, as soon as possible because both populations are affected. And from that we should establish the principles and elements of a permanent cease-fire and a long lasting political settlement."
But, he added, the current draft is still being worked out because of reservations expressed by several governments, including those of Israel, Lebanon, Arab nations, and the United States.
"The draft resolution of the Security Council on which we have agreed with the United States is a basis for working and improving," he said. "Israel and Lebanon have reacted, and we should take into account their grievances and recommendations, mainly the interests of Lebanon, the stability of Lebanon and its unity and sovereignty, and also its independence."
However, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora emerged from a meeting in Beirut with U.S. Middle East envoy David Welch Wednesday to say there had been no progress on the resolution's final wording.
The stumbling block is reported to be over the demand by Lebanon and Arab states for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanese soil after a cease-fire. The United States and Israel want Israeli troops to stay in place until some kind of international force can be deployed to southern Lebanon.
In London, the British aid agency Oxfam said the delay in getting a cease-fire is creating a growing humanitarian crisis in the area.
Oxfam spokesman Ian Bray told VOA the agency is finding it extremely difficult to get aid to those in need because of the destruction of Lebanese infrastructure such as roads, and the lack of any security guarantees for humanitarian aid convoys.
"For weeks now we've been desperately calling for an immediate cease-fire," he said. "Every day there's a delay, there's more people who die on both sides of the conflict, in northern Israel as well. But every day their situation gets worse and worse, and the humanitarian situation will just get to crisis level if we do not have an immediate cease-fire."
Bray said Oxfam aid workers dare not move out of Beirut for fear of coming under attack by Israeli warplanes.